A leading liberal attempts to understand what is happening to his President... and to the Presidency:
One of the unintended results of the redecoration of the Oval Office was the downsizing of Barack Obama. In last week's prime-time address to the nation, the president sat behind a massive and capaciously empty desk, looking somehow smaller than he ever has -- a man physically reduced by sinking polls, a lousy economy and the prospect that his party might lose control of Congress. Behold something we never thought we'd see with Obama: The Incredible Shrinking Presidency.
This is an amazing and, to me, somewhat frightening, turn of events. The folks who ran a very smart presidential campaign in 2008 have left the defining of the Obama presidency to others, in this case people on the edge of insanity. For example, a recent Pew poll reported that "nearly one in five Americans (18 percent) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009." In other words, the longer Obama has been in office, the more ignorant people have become about him.
This news about the growing ignorance concerning Obama's religion came not too long after yet another poll revealed that 24 percent of Americans don't think Obama was born in the United States. An earlier poll showed that 10 percent of Americans think he was born in Indonesia, where he lived as a boy, 7 percent believe he is Kenyan and still others say (correctly) that he was born in Hawaii but do not know, a notable Elvis movie notwithstanding, that Hawaii is an American state.
The conclusion drawn, at least initially, is that the President's poll numbers can be chalked up to ignorance or insanity or both. Which of course makes as much sense as the suggestion that racism and bigotry account for Obama's negatives. But Cohen surprisingly goes deeper and in the end, blames Obama himself for Obama's woes:
But it is clear by now that Obama has allowed others to define him. For this, Obama needs to blame Obama. His stutter-step approach to certain issues -- his wimpy statements regarding the planned Islamic center in Manhattan, for instance -- erodes not just his standing but his profile. What we thought we knew, we do not. Like a picture hung in the sun, he fades over time.
Obama is stuck with Obama -- the good and the bad. There is more of the former than the latter, so all is not lost. But what Obama can do -- what he must do -- is get some new people.
The president needs better speechwriters. The president needs a staff to tell him not to give an Oval Office address unless he has something worthy of the Oval Office to say. The president needs someone to look into the camera so that, when the light goes on and he says, "Good evening," he looks commander in chiefish: big. In other words, the president needs to fire some key people. Either that, or the way things are going, the American people are going to fire him.
Actually Mr. Cohen, the President could do himself and the country better. He could resign. He could admit the job was above his pay grade. He could confess that his ideology has been tried and has failed in every attempt or he and his America hating wife could lift the veil and begin an internationational tour, partnering with the likes of Venezuela's Chavez or Cuba's Castro and extol the virtues of what they deem to be hope and change.
And then we the people, so ignorant and insane, could go about the business of restoring America's preeminence and position and put this sad chapter of history behind us, hoping to have learned forever the lessons of electing an affirmative action President.