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Sunday, June 27, 2010

OBAMA AND THE CUSTER SYNDROME

      To say things aren't going well for President Obama is an understatement on a par with saying General Custer of Little Bighorn fame, had problems with multiculturalism. The war in Afghanistan seems to have bogged down and the President just had to fire the commander, General McChrystal because he and his senior staff unwisely exposed a lack of confidence and respect for Obama and the upper echelons of the Administration's foreign policy team. The prospect of a stable and modernizing government in Iraq diminishes with each daily sectarian bombing. Iran is defiantly continuing to pursue it's nuclear weapons program despite new levels of economic sanctions. Domestic unemployment still hovers around ten percent. And of course the run away well in the Gulf of Mexico keeps spewing millions of gallons of oil as seasonal storm clouds grow in the area.

     But that's just a list of the objective threats the Administration of "hope and change" is facing. The political threats which have lurked in the background for months are growing like General Custer's arrow collection. It's a given that the Republican party and it's adopted child, the Tea Party Movement are committed to oppose the Obama's policy agenda, at least until he can convince Democrats in the Congress to move to the center and make significant compromises, which their ideological core opposes; a most unlikely scenario on both their parts. But the adverse political winds are blowing from both the Left and the Right signaling a threat of major proportions.

     After January 20, 2009, the "Progressive" Left expected a new a whole new world of government expansion and regulation; the rapid closing of the hated Guantanamo prison; the rapid winding down to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a “spreading around” of private wealth and the passage of major new social programs and services. While they have gotten some of this liberal wish list, they haven't seen the sweeping transformation they expected. The first year and one half of the new "Enlightenment" has been long on "hope" and a little light on "change" from their perspective.

     Guantanamo is still open; the Middle East wars are still flaring and Obama upped the ante by committing an additional thirty thousand troops to an Afghanistan "surge". Obama has signed the extension of the Patriot Act which the ACLU and its far Left supporters equate with constitutional anti-matter; the "single payer" European style government run health care system never achieved lift off and it's step child the "government option" went down with the hopes of the Democrat Senatorial candidate in Massachusetts when Republican Scott Brown pulled his upset win to fill Ted Kennedy's former seat.

     Now the sniping from the Left has broken out of the blogesphere and has gone mainstream. While still not over their angst that Obama has shown a semblance of pragmatism, hasn't tried to leap over the impossibly high wall of reality and hasn't abandoned all things centrist, the usual liberal commentators are wringing their hands because Obama isn't emotional enough. He doesn't get angry and stamp his feet. He isn't hugging oily pelicans and declaring "jihad" on “greedy corporations” and all producers of fossil fuels.

Here's a sample:

     This from Maureen Dowd, the left wing queen of sarcasm and hater of all words containing the letters
b-u-s-h and c-h-e-n-e-y:

NY Times 6-15-10

     "How can a man who was a dazzling enough politician to become the first black president at age 47 suddenly become so obdurately self-destructive about politics?
President Obama’s bloodless quality about people and events, the emotional detachment that his aides said allowed him to see things more clearly, has instead obscured his vision. It has made him unable to understand things quickly on a visceral level and put him on the defensive in this spring of our discontent, failing to understand that Americans are upset that a series of greedy corporations have screwed over the little guy without enough fierce and immediate pushback from the president.

     Obama is the opposite, often too hesitant to take the obvious action. He seems unable to muster the adrenalin necessary to go full bore until the crowd has waited and wailed and almost given up on him, but it’s a nerve-racking way to campaign and govern."

     In another sign that the bloom is definitely off the rose, reliably liberal Charles Blow, also of the reliably liberal New York Times offers this:

     "President Obama’s relationship with America, like many a young marriage, is growing sour."
"It is becoming increasingly apparent that the magic has drained away. Even among his most ardent supporters, there now exists a certain frustration and disillusionment — not necessarily in the execution of his duties, but in his inability to seize moments, chart a course and navigate the choppy waters of public opinion.
What’s left for many is a big plume of disappointment and sadness lurking just beneath the surface."

     "There is blame on both sides. On one side is America — fickle and excitable, hotheaded and prone to overreaction, easily frightened and in constant need of reassurance. On the other side stands Obama — solid and sober, rooted in the belief that his way is the right way and in no need of alteration. He’s the emotionally maimed type who lights up when he’s stroked and adored but shuts down in the face of acrimony. Other people’s anxieties are dismissed as irrational and unworthy of engagement or empathy. He seems quite comfortable with this aspect of his personality, even if few others are, and shows little desire to change it. It’s the height of irony: the presumed transformative president is stymied by his own unwillingness to be transformed. He would rather sacrifice the relationship than be altered by it. "

     So if the Left is wavering, the circle of opposition is almost complete; Left, Center and Right. Like the ill-fated General Custer, Obama needs to do something big in a hurry, to changes a lot of minds. The recent poll numbers offer no solace.

     Obama's job approval rating is 47.2% and the trend is down. Pollster.com has approval among the all important self identified independents down to 39.7%. Democrats still answer "yes" when asked if they approve of the President's job performance but for the first time since the election Democrat approval has fallen below 80%. That's 21% of Democrats who don't approve. Combine that with 60.3% independents and a whopping 88% of Republicans and the Custer analogy looks pretty good.

     It gets worse. An NBC-Wall Street Journal survey found over 60% of people questioned, believed the country is "headed in the wrong direction." A Gallup Poll found that 42% of respondents identified themselves as "conservatives"; the highest figure on an annual basis in the history of the question. Only 20% of those surveyed identified as Liberals.

     It's too early to declare "Obama's Last Stand" but his scalp must be tingling. While the 2012 presidential election is still over two years away, the important congressional elections of 2010 are just five months out. The Democrats were already caught up in the anti-incumbent whirlwind, as were some Republicans. Now Democrat candidates are identified with an unpopular president whose "coattails" may drag them down like a bunch of Louisiana pelicans caught in the mire.

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