[ Michael Ramirez cartoon below the fold -- at the end ]
Nationally syndicated columnist Peggy Noonan is one of my favorite writers in the world. She was a speech writer for President Reagan and always provides interesting insight and depth to any presidential contest.
Very few writers, that cover presidential administrations and candidates, convert their thoughts to paper as does Peggy Noonan. I look forward to every one of her columns and have since before the last cycle. As a journalist, with her natural in-depth probing style, she has not always been positive on Romney, but that is what we expect by the very best American journalists — brutal candor.
Peggy Noonan’s editorial below is one of the very best I have seen about President Obama in the last 3+ years.
In my volunteer work for MittRomneyCentral, I have to read a lot. We have to wade through a lot of nonsense. There are thousands of paid “journalists” across America that are constantly writing about politics. They are always looking for some new, different angle — they have to write — that is what they do.
Then there is Noonan.
For a few weeks now, I have been contemplating a shift in my work at MRC. Not only do we hope to attract the broader electorate that has passionately supported Speaker Gingrich and Senator Santorum, we also expect to attract a large number of the “Reagan Democrats” — I have spoken to many. A few are my friends. Some of them are very close to making a decision to vote for Gov. Romney. One already has. This is my first post about a Democrat that I think will go down in American history as one of our worst Presidents, based entirely on his poor judgment and decisions.
Peggy Noonan’s column this week described perfectly every odd comment of Obama’s I had heard these past several weeks. And those odd expressions of his that viscerally seemed both comfortable and awkward to him. She nailed it all in this wonderful Op-Ed, using simple words like “creepy” and “not-so-smooth operator.” Even giving her opinion that he does not like being president — something I had been sensing but was reticent to write about.
Below are excerpts of this week’s Noonan column along with commentary from other sources. There has been a conspicuous increase in the number of comments (and articles) about Mr. Obama from within and outside the White House. In my opinion, these signal a clear understanding by the Obama administration that the Republican nominating process is effectively over and that Obama is in full campaign (combat) mode – they are donning their battle gear on all fronts.
Since I interspersed several other excerpts throughout Noonan’s below, each Noonan excerpt is preceded by the initials “PN.”
Something’s happening to President Obama’s relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, “Nothing new there,” but actually I think there is. I’m referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.
What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who’s not operating in good faith.
This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it’s his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it’s a big fault.
Events of just the past 10 days have contributed to the shift. There was the open-mic conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in which Mr. Obama pleaded for “space” and said he will have “more flexibility” in his negotiations once the election is over and those pesky voters have done their thing. On tape it looked so bush-league, so faux-sophisticated. When he knew he’d been caught, the president tried to laugh it off by comically covering a mic in a following meeting. It was all so . . . creepy.
Referring to this event, Gov. Romney described it as being “revealing” of Obama:
“Now when the president of the United States is speaking with the leader of Russia saying he can be more flexible after the election, that is an alarming and troubling development,” Romney said, according to NBC News.
“There’s no time for our president to be pulling his punches with the American people and not telling us what he’s intending to do with regards to our missile defense system, with regards to our military might and with regards to our commitment to Israel, and with regards to our absolute conviction that Iran must have a nuclear weapon,” the GOP front-runner continued.
And to Noonan’s point about Obama laughing off the open mic mistake, we see Obama taking the unpresidential approach in much of his humor lately. Here is one example of the president talking trash:
“I just want to remind him: I’ve got more Twitter followers than you, man,” Obama said. “I just want to keep him humble and hungry. We all need someone who does that. Fortunately, I have Michelle.”
This constant joking around by Obama seems a clear sign of a nervous imbalance at a time of national crisis — an obvious insecurity that Obama doesn’t really know what to do; how to lead; what steps to take next.
Next, a boy of 17 is shot and killed under disputed and unclear circumstances. The whole issue is racially charged, emotions are high, and the only memorable words from the president’s response were, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.” At first it seemed OK—not great, but all right—but as the story continued and suddenly there were death threats and tweeted addresses and congressmen in hoodies, it seemed insufficient to the moment. At the end of the day, the public reaction seemed to be: “Hey buddy, we don’t need you to personalize what is already too dramatic, it’s not about you.”
When I saw his comment about this on the news, my first reaction was “creepy” as she described earlier. My next thought was, “What relevance is there in what he said?” There is none — unless of course Obama’s intent was to infuse race into an unfolding set of facts — and if so, the comment was deplorable.
When my wife read Noonan’s Op-Ed and we discussed it later, she said the following part best expressed her feelings about President Obama (that he has been wasting our time during a crisis).
Now this week the Supreme Court arguments on ObamaCare, which have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration. The constitutional law professor from the University of Chicago didn’t notice the centerpiece of his agenda was not constitutional? How did that happen?
Maybe a stinging decision is coming, maybe not, but in a purely political sense this is how it looks: We were in crisis in 2009—we still are—and instead of doing something strong and pertinent about our economic woes, the president wasted history’s time. He wasted time that was precious—the debt clock is still ticking!—by following an imaginary bunny that disappeared down a rabbit hole.
The high court’s hearings gave off an overall air not of political misfeasance but malfeasance.
All these things have hardened lines of opposition, and left opponents with an aversion that will not go away.
This Washington Times article sums up how it has been going for Obama lately:
The past seven brutal days will go down as one of the worst weeks in history for a sitting president. It certainly has been, without any doubt, the worst week yet for President Obama.
Somehow, Mr. Obama managed to embarrass himself abroad, humiliate himself here at home, see his credentials for being elected so severely undermined that it raises startling questions about whether he should have been elected in the first place — let alone be re-elected later this year.
From the day Mr. Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamity—unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures. These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating, is America over, can we turn it around?
That’s what the American people were thinking about.
But the new president wasn’t thinking about that. All the books written about the creation of economic policy within his administration make clear the president and his aides didn’t know it was so bad, didn’t understand the depth of the crisis, didn’t have a sense of how long it would last. They didn’t have their mind on what the American people had their mind on.
The president had his mind on health care. And, to be fair-minded, health care was part of the economic story. But only a part! And not the most urgent part. Not the most frightening, distressing, immediate part. Not the “Is America over?” part.
Obama’s general incompetence and lack of common sense and judgment are being explained away with feeble excuses by many of his surrogates; here is one from his top surrogate, Biden:
“I don’t think we’ll be beaten by those candidates. I think we’ll be beaten — if we are – by something happening in the Eurozone or something happening in the Gulf, which could be difficult for us, or this barrage of SuperPAC money. But even with that I feel good,” Biden said.
And so the relationship the president wanted never really knitted together. Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they’ve read, largely written by people like them—bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.
There is something odd about Obama’s overall demeanor as I perceive it from TV appearances only. He seems happy almost as if he were on vacation or enjoying a party in which he were the center of attention. Odd because there is so much about America that is out of kilter. He seems so relaxed; so comfortable. Frankly, it is obvious that President Obama is the most prominent example of the Peter Principle in all of America. I seriously doubt that he doesn’t know he is incompetent, therefore he is content.
If you jumped into a time machine to the day after the election, in November, 2012, and saw a headline saying “Obama Loses,” do you imagine that would be followed by widespread sadness, pain and a rending of garments? You do not. Even his own supporters will not be that sad. It’s hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, “If only Obama were president!” Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn’t seem to like his job that much. As a former president he’d be quiet, detached, aloof. He’d make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans’ fault. They didn’t want to work with him.
A few days ago, Mrs. Obama wrote an email to supporters telling them her husband works late:
In a fundraising e-mail with the heading “up late,” Mrs. Obama writes to donors: “Every night in the White House, I see Barack up late poring over briefings, reading your letters, and writing notes to people he’s met.
“He’s doing that for you,” she adds. “Working hard every day to make sure we can finish what we all started together.
“This week, I need you to have his back,” says the e-mail. “Will you donate $3 or more to support Barack before Saturday’s critical fundraising deadline?”
It’s pretty bad when Obama’s wife has to try to get the word out that her husband works late, an obvious sign that she, or the administration, believe the general public may perceive the president a slacker. Usually, when a president has a very strong work ethic and often works late, it is widely known among the West Wing team and is referred to in interviews. Not with this president. His wife has to prop him up to the public. This is a first as far as I can remember.
It’s spring break for the Obama daughters and mom has taken them West for the week. Michelle Obama and her daughters visited Mount Rushmore Wednesday to see the monument where four U.S. presidents are immortalized in stone on the soaring mountainside.
Now the Obamas have arrived in Las Vegas for a private family visit.
At the depths of the recession, President Obama seemed to disparage Las Vegas visits, at one point warning hard-pressed Americans, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”
He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. You think Tip O’Neill liked Ronald Reagan? You think he wanted to give him the gift of compromise? He was a mean, tough partisan who went to work every day to defeat Ronald Reagan. But forced by facts and numbers to deal, he dealt. So did Reagan.
Noonan’s reference to Reagan as president is spot-on. It is not at all different from Obama’s current situation. Reagan also had an intransigent congress and he never whined or complained about it — never. What did he do? He used the bully pulpit and took his message to the American people via television and had them contact their senators and congressmen to get them off the dime. That worked most of the time.
There are three problems with Obama: 1) he has never been an executive leader, 2) he does not know how to negotiate, and 3) he does not know how to lead out. Reagan had been a governor of one of the largest states in the nation and he learned how to be both tough and how to get others to compromise to his objectives.
An American president has to make cooperation happen.
But we’ve strayed from the point. Mr. Obama has a largely nonexistent relationship with many, and a worsening relationship with some.
Really, he cannot win the coming election. But the Republicans, still, can lose it. At this point in the column we usually sigh.
[emphasis added throughout]….Click here to read entire Op-Ed by Peggy Noonan
For the record: Since I plan to do a lot of truth-letting about Obama, I feel compelled to state that I do not espouse the notions of many Americans about President Obama. I never thought he is a Muslim and take him at his word that he is Christian; I don’t think his middle name is any indication of anything except a middle name; I have never been a birther; I don’t think he has ulterior motives for America – his motives and policies are clear – they are ultra-liberal; some have said that Obama desires to sow discord, leading to chaos in the streets of America – I disagree; some say he is an evil person – I do not think that at all, but believe he is a secular Christian who is an incompetent leader; and finally, I think he is patriotic but his patriotism is not rooted in an exceptional America.
What does this YouTube tell us about President Obama? Not creative? He needs a new speech writer? I don’t know about you, but he sure seems to be patronizing, even condescending to leaders of other nations. What do you think?