According to E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, “a new Obama — or, in many ways, the old Obama of 2008 — is about to reappear.”
Into a phone booth Mr. Obama enters and out comes the Man of Steel.
According to Dionne, “The president’s speech last Thursday in Holland, Mich., was the first sign that the competitive Obama is reemerging. His target, like Harry Truman’s in 1948, was an obstructionist Republican Congress. He condemned ‘the refusal of some folks in Congress to put the country ahead of party’ and urged that it ‘start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.’” (Set aside the fact that if a Republican had uttered these same words about Democrats, Dionne would be livid, saying that the GOP president was acting in a disgraceful manner by accusing his opponents of being “unpatriotic.”)
“With Obama,” Dionne goes on, “there is always the danger of a relapse into the passive, we’re-all-reasonable-people style. The fighting Obama has briefly appeared before, only to go back into hibernation. This time, the evidence suggests he’ll stick with it — and, in truth, he has no other choice.”
Dionne is among the fiercely loyal Obama supporters who believe that the president’s problems mostly have to do with communications, with optics, with theatrics. Mr. Obama, you see, needs to be more of a fighter, more of an attack dog, more of a political assassin. If he does that, the New Obama – who is really the Old Obama – will rise from the ashes.
Here’s a political rule of thumb: when the supporters of a politician start reaching for the Harry Truman model of comebacks, you know they’re in trouble.
What we’re seeing from Dionne is merely the latest in a long line of liberals who once believed Obama was their liberal Great Communicator, the rhetorical reincarnation of Lincoln, a man of supernatural political talents. Now we’re supposed to believe he’s clumsy and passive, too civilized, too cool, too distant, and not aggressive enough.
The uncomfortable truth for liberals is this: Obama is failing because his (liberal) policies are failing. It is that simple. Pouring old wine into new wineskin won’t do the trick. Neither will a bus tour. Neither will finger the Arab Spring and the Japanese tsunami for our economic troubles. Neither will employing what John Harwood calls “the hottest rhetoric of [Obama’s] tenure, blistering opponents for refusing ‘to put the country ahead of party’ because they would ‘rather see their opponents lose than see America win.’”
What we are witnessing are the desperate, angry and increasingly unappealing words of a desperate, angry, and increasingly unappealing politician. Those who are waiting for Superman will be waiting in vain.