Commentary Magazine


Not Happy to Have the Job?

I think Fred Hiatt is on to something. He muses “about why President Obama is having a tough political time right now: He doesn’t seem all that happy being president.” Well, he certainly is snarly — toward the media, the public, his political opponents, Israel, and Democrats who want to be re-elected. The list is long. He and his staff seem to forever be whining. The Middle East is “hard.” No one understands them. The public has been duped. A happy warrior he is not.

It is, in part, understandable, since Obama doesn’t have any executive experience and seems uninterested or perhaps overwhelmed by the “doing the job” part of being president. Getting to be president — the sycophantic media coverage and the swooning crowds — was one thing. Sure, he had to put up with the gun-and-Bible huggers, as he confided to his San Francisco donors. But who doesn’t like adoring fans? At least he was good at the campaigning part. In office, however, there’s nonstop criticism. And then there are all those unpleasant facts (Paul Ryan’s, for one example; Climategate’s, for another) to which he seems ill-equipped to counter. He doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of legislation and doesn’t like to compromise (he only doubles down). The adoring fans have turned sullen. He’s not a practiced or skilled executive, so maybe the job is not what he imagined. Maybe it was the campaigning and winning that held the real attraction.

Hiatt remarks that “Americans might find it easier to root for or with Obama if he’d show us, despite everything, that he’s happy we hired him.” But maybe he isn’t. He told us he’d be happy with one term. That sounded like someone not all that happy in his current job.