Now Obama’s really in trouble: he’s lost Howard Fineman
of Newsweek wrote
a remarkable column over the weekend in which he repeatedly blasts Obama. He goes so far as to predict that unless Obama drastically changes his ways, he won’t be re-elected. Eight months after his inauguration!
He says: “The president’s problem isn’t that he is too visible; it’s the lack of content in what he says when he keeps showing up on the tube.” Whoa! And he ends the piece with zinger: “Doing Letterman again won’t help. It may boost the host’s ratings, Mr. President, but probably not your own.”
Pretty tough stuff coming from a liberal stalwart like Fineman, right? Well, you wouldn’t know it from reading the denizens of Lucianne.com, or at least the first twenty or so comments I read. Instead of being cheered by Fineman’s harsh stance toward Obama and seeing it as a great sign for our side, they’re angry, spiteful, and petty toward him.
Here’s the Fineman column, followed by the L-dotters:
The Limits of Charisma
First 20 comments at Lucianne.com:
Mr. President, please stay off TV.
Published Sep 26, 2009
If ubiquity were the measure of a presidency, Barack Obama would already be grinning at us from Mount Rushmore. But of course it is not. Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He’s a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East, you name it—but, as yet, no boxes checked “done.” This is a problem that style will not fix. Unless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he’s not going to be reelected, let alone enshrined in South Dakota.
The president’s problem isn’t that he is too visible; it’s the lack of content in what he says when he keeps showing up on the tube. Obama can seem a mite too impressed with his own aura, as if his presence on the stage is the Answer. There is, at times, a self-referential (even self-reverential) tone in his big speeches. They are heavily salted with the words “I” and “my.” (He used the former 11 times in the first few paragraphs of his address to the U.N. last week.) Obama is a historic figure, but that is the beginning, not the end, of the story.
There is only so much political mileage that can still be had by his reminding the world that he is not George W. Bush. It was the winning theme of the 2008 campaign, but that race ended nearly a year ago. The ex-president is now more ex than ever, yet the current president, who vowed to look forward, is still reaching back to Bush as bogeyman.
He did it again in that U.N. speech. The delegates wanted to know what the president was going to do about Israel and the Palestinian territories. He answered by telling them what his predecessor had failed to do. This was effective for his first month or two. Now it is starting to sound more like an excuse than an explanation.
Members of Obama’s own party know who Obama is not; they still sometimes wonder who he really is. In Washington, the appearance of uncertainty is taken as weakness—especially on Capitol Hill, where a president is only as revered as he is feared. Being the cool, convivial late-night-guest in chief won’t cut it with Congress, an institution impervious to charm (especially the charm of a president with wavering poll numbers). Members of both parties are taking Obama’s measure with their defiant and sometimes hostile response to his desires on health care. Never much of a legislator (and not long a -senator), Obama underestimated the complexity of enacting a major “reform” bill. Letting Congress try to write it on its own was an awful idea. As a balkanized land of microfiefdoms, each loyal to its own lobbyists and consultants, Congress is incapable of being led by its “leadership.” It’s not like Chicago, where you call a guy who calls a guy who calls Daley, who makes the call. The president himself must make his wishes clear—along with the consequences for those who fail to grant them.
The model is a man whose political effectiveness Obama repeatedly says he admires: Ronald Reagan. There was never doubt about what he wanted. The Gipper made his simple, dramatic tax cuts the centerpiece not only of his campaign but also of the entire first year of his presidency.
Obama seems to think he’ll get credit for the breathtaking scope of his ambition. But unless he sees results, it will have the opposite effect—diluting his clout, exhausting his allies, and emboldening his enemies.
That may be starting to happen. Health-care legislation is still weeks, if not months, from passage, and the bill as it stands could well be a windfall for the very insurance and drug companies it was supposed to rein in. Climate-change legislation (a.k.a. cap-and-trade) is almost certainly dead for this year, which means that American negotiators will go empty-handed to the Copenhagen summit in December—pushing the goal of limiting carbon emissions even farther into the distance. In the spring Obama privately told the big banks that he was going to change the way they do business. It was going to be his way or the highway. But the complex legislation he wants to submit to Congress has little chance of passage this year. Doing Letterman again won’t help. It may boost the host’s ratings, Mr. President, but probably not your own.
Reply 1—Posted by: Anner40, 9/27/2009 8:05:05 PM
- end of initial entry -
Howie….stuff it….there is no charisma or anything else.
Reply 2—Posted by: Scottyboy, 9/27/2009 8:05:43 PM
‘bout time there Howie.
Reply 3—Posted by: tangles, 9/27/2009 8:09:42 PM
Newsweek wobbles and they will fall down~ at the alter of Obama.
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Reply 4—Posted by: lakerman1, 9/27/2009 8:15:12 PM
Each of us who has ever worked for a living has come across at least one illusion of a person. Right, you people? The charming, well-dressed, well-spoken man who never accomplishes anything more than telling everyone what he or she will accomplish. Those kinds of people are vapid—puffs of hot air on a warm summer evening.
The undocumented president is such a person. He has faked his way through undegraduate and law school, shamelessly charming himself along—it is so bad he will not even release his academic records, because that would shatter the illusion.
And he is bereft of accomplishments after law school, so vacuous that he refuses to tell us what he did as a community organizer, or who his clients were as an attorney.
A puff of hot air on a warm summer evening, smiling as he fades away like the cheshire cat. There is nothing there except talk. And hot air.
Reply 5—Posted by: Bubba9, 9/27/2009 8:17:38 PM
When you look in the mirror, you see you. When I look in the mirror, I see me. When Barak Obama looks in the mirror, he sees the Golden Calf.
Reply 6—Posted by: veritas, 9/27/2009 8:19:10 PM
Too funny, Howard.
Barry’s “charisma” didn’t even win over Michelle.
Reply 7—Posted by: Poliskeptic, 9/27/2009 8:21:51 PM
Whoa….are the Obama sycophants starting to wake up and eat a big bite of crow? This is a big step toward calling Obama out for the poser he is.
Reply 8—Posted by: peedaddy, 9/27/2009 8:22:14 PM
Give it up!! Newsweak is a joke. Such timely reporting on Howie’s part. He doesn’t miss a thing. They really think they still have a chance to salvage their worthless reputation.
Reply 9—Posted by: NorthernDog, 9/27/2009 8:27:19 PM
FTA: Members of Obama’s own party know who Obama is not; they still sometimes wonder who he really is.
Oh they know who, and what, he really is. They are still too afraid to say it, less they be tared and feathered as part of the Right Wing Industrial Complex .
Reply 10—Posted by: IIIMAFVET, 9/27/2009 8:37:10 PM
Once I had an “assistant Sec. of Labor” show up to teach us how to “explain to constituents” the reason for their delay in benefits. He took the first call and the caller reamed him a new one! Six months later he was indicted, convicted and sent to Fed prison, not for wrongs in our law> He had not been vetted but, he was not a CZAR. One year later, after “60 Minutes” visited, this is not an endorsement of CBS, congress approved an increase of 100 in professional staff. Problem solved!
Reply 11—Posted by: artsy, 9/27/2009 8:41:00 PM
I applaud Fineman for having the fortitude to tell the truth with descriptions that are so very obvious to us. He is also admitting that he was wrong…which is SO difficult for a lib. He must know the punishment that awaits him from ZerO and Rham. It will not be pretty!
Reply 12—Posted by: Highvoltage, 9/27/2009 9:17:14 PM
Howard, Obama is a Zero. You guys in the media never admitted it because you were too caught up in his so called ‘charisma’. The only thing he, Obama brings to the table is a mouth organ which he runs all time on TV and super narcissism. What do you expect?
Reply 13—Posted by: M2, 9/27/2009 9:19:53 PM
He’s a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East,…
I don’t consider any of the things Obama plans to do “worthy”. Everything he wants to do is to advance the Far Left agenda.
He answered by telling them what his predecessor had failed to do…Now it is starting to sound more like an excuse than an explanation.
It is an excuse, Howard. He’s voting “present” again.
Health-care legislation is still weeks, if not months, from passage, and the bill as it stands could well be a windfall for the very insurance and drug companies it was supposed to rein in. Climate-change legislation is almost certainly dead for this year,…
Not so fast: Both monumental and dangerous reforms can easily be sneaked, piecemeal, into already-existing bills.
Do not make the mistake of turning your back on the czars, and the Far Left crazies in Congress. They will slit our throats rather than pass up a chance to enact cap/trade and socialized medicine and control over talk radio, the internet and what’s left of the MSM.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. There are ruthless people behind those curtains.
Reply 14—Posted by: IIIMAFVET, 9/27/2009 9:30:39 PM
The M-2 saved my life! If the full auto M-1 is where you got your user name thank you sir/ma’am. DSM.
Reply 15—Posted by: Japanorama, 9/27/2009 9:39:02 PM
The more he assures me of his honesty, the faster I count my spoons.
Reply 16—Posted by: hughglass, 9/27/2009 10:59:28 PM
Sinking ship..meet rat! More to follow.
Reply 17—Posted by: Frank G, 9/27/2009 11:45:37 PM
BO’s defeat means freedom in America.
Reply 18—Posted by: Melin1, 9/27/2009 11:59:10 PM
Once again, we get the word ‘eloquent. If BO is eloquent, I am 9 feet tall and 50 years younger. Or something. Eloquent, articulate, charismatic he is not.
Reply 19—Posted by: ColonialAmerican1623, 9/28/2009 1:50:48 AM
An outstanding example of The Peter Prinicipal.
The only ones who can stop this is Congress and you see what they have done..nothing.
Reply 20—Posted by: ocjim, 9/28/2009 5:09:25 AM
Charisma, Howie??? LOL. Face it, and fess up that you too got drunk on Barack Obama last year, and now in the light of day, you are waking up and confused. Well, why don’t you just gather your clothes and quietly sneak down and get a cab? We certainly don’t need to hear this disappointed lament and hungover hope of yours for him.
And your absurd excuses like ”He’s a man with an endless, worthy to-do list” ignore the fact that his ideas are NOT worthy and increasingly unpopular with this awakening nation. Moreover, Howard, if you’re going to try and get things done through the sheer force of your personality, it is essential that your personality have credibility and respect. His does not and it is getting worse.
Obama’s main problem now is the Independents he lied to and fooled during the campaign. He assured them that he was a moderate and he is not and never was. These now wiser folks are not amused at being bamboozled. So, sober up and just move along, Howie.
Fineman has figured out that Obama is a strategic political disaster, and doesn’t push any illusory tactical fixes (which shows he understands the scope of what is happening).
Here are some infamous strategic blunders where the hubris of “If we just show up, we will win” substituted for a real plan:
1) Napoleon in Russia. Even took Moscow, but realized too late it’s not a wargame where the victory condition is “take Moscow.”
2) Hitler in Russia. No amount of military operational and tactical acumen could substitute for the lack of an overall strategic plan for victory.
3) Southern Secession. God is on our side. God, hello?!
4) Japan in WWII. What do you say we roll the dice, and see what comes up?
5) USA in Iraq. In this case there is an overall strategic plan; unfortunately it is called “Liberalism” which amounts to pre-ordained doom.
6) Obama in Washington, D.C. What, it’s not the Magic Kingdom??
A quibble on Hitler, though. I thought that his problem was not lack of a strategic plan, but an actively bad and stupid strategic plan. I don’t remember the particulars, but it had something to do with dividing his armies up in different fronts, aiming both at Moscow and at the Caucasus oil fields, which slowed up the whole effort so that by the end of 1941 they had not achieved their objectives and then got bogged down.
Irv P. writes:
I like the response Fineman got. There are a lot of angry people who have to vent…so blast away mine hosts.
I don’t see his article as a sign which should make our side start cooing. Fineman and his ilk want to help Barry and his “well intentioned agenda.” They’re not converts…they’re enemies.
We are at war with these people!
I wasn’t saying that anyone should coo at the other side, but when a respected, pro-Obama liberal journalist essentially calls Obama an incompetent president, that seems like a moment to acknowledge a couple of runs for our side, not a moment to speak of the journalist with rude and dismissive contempt, refusing even to acknowledge his telling shots against Obama. However, I do not watch TV except very rarely, I don’t follow Fineman, and for all I know he’s made pro-Obama statements in the past that have so outraged people that now they’re understandably taking the opportunity to let loose at him.
Gintas replies to LA:
“A quibble on Hitler, though. I thought that his problem was not lack of a strategic plan, but an actively bad and stupid strategic plan. I don’t remember the particulars, but it had something to do with dividing his armies up in different fronts, aiming both at Moscow and at the Caucasus oil fields, which slowed up the whole effort so that by the end of 1941 they had not achieved their objectives and then got bogged down.”
It’s correct to quibble, I simplifed some for the sake of my PowerPoint presentation. The plan was muddled and vague and hopeful and prone to impulsive changes, and dependent on the Russians folding up quickly. When the Russians didn’t fold up, there was a real problem with focus.
Also, there were Japanese leaders who had serious misgivings about attacking the U.S., chief among them Yamamoto himself.
Ok, on this basis we can reconcile our two statements. The Germans had a muddled strategic plan at first, and then after the Russians survived the initial onslaught, which was evident had happened by the end of 1941, the Germans lacked any strategic plan.
David B. writes:
On June 22, 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union with three army groups. AG North went toward Leningrad. AG Center drove on Moscow. AG South had the Caucasus as the objective.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 28, 2009 03:49 PM | Send
AG Center might have taken Moscow before winter, but Hitler diverted a Panzer army south to help encircle Kiev and this delayed the Moscow push as Stalin brought up reserves and winter came. It is not likely that Stalin would have given up even if he had to retreat from Moscow.
The Soviet Union was too large to conquer in six months and the Red Army could take huge losses and still fight. This was especially true considering Hitler’s strategy, both military and political. Hitler was stategically defeated when he did not win in 1941.