Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today's Must-Read: Mead on Falling Between Two Stools

Today's must-read is Walter Russell Mead on what's wrong with Obama: not his impulse to compromise but his affinity for compromises that don't work, that tic off the base while enraging the opposition.  A more clever and imaginative--that is, probably, more experienced--compromiser would find ways of making each side feel surprised at how well they have done.  Go read the whole thing.

Mead mentions one point I've highlighted before: the discontinuity between Obama in reality and  Obama in expectation.  But Mead picks up on another point I hadn't noticed: the kid is looking punchy.  Somebody needs to take him back to his corner, pour a bottle of water over his head, and tell him that it ain't over, that he can really do it.  Wrapping both points together, Mead says:

The President looks like a man who is ridden by events; at just the moment when the nation craves a strong leader, the President looks weak, dodgy, uncertain.  The contrast with the inflated hopes that an untested and inexperienced Senator Obama did so much to build up is crippling.  Obama has fallen so far precisely because he and his supporters so hugely oversold him.
I think I've said before that the job of a President  is to make his predecessor look good. I won't say that Obama has made W look good yet.  But when it comes to deal-making politics, squaring the circle, we all know who was good at that--Bill Clinton.  Mead says: , "the moment the President seems to be envying Clinton’s talents and attempting to emulate rather than scorn them.  From anti-Clinton to aspiring Clinton is a long fall and it can’t be much fun."   

1 comment:

Davis X. Machina said...

But when it comes to deal-making politics, squaring the circle, we all know who was good at that--Bill Clinton

The passage of time has dimmed memories, I suspect.

Clintonian triangulation, small-ball school-uniforms-and-midnight basketball reduced the activists in his party to paroxysms at least as bad as any fire Obama presently takes from his left.