NOONAN ASSESSES OBAMA – AT 7:48 A.M. ET: Peggy Noonan, who's sharpened up quite a bit recently, gives a very direct assessment of Barack Obama, almost a year and a half into his presidency. From The Wall Street Journal:
The president is starting to look snakebit. He's starting to look unlucky, like Jimmy Carter. It wasn't Mr. Carter's fault that the American diplomats were taken hostage in Tehran, but he handled it badly, and suffered. He defied the rule of the King in "Pippin," the Broadway show of Carter's era, who spoke of "the rule that every general knows by heart, that it's smarter to be lucky than it's lucky to be smart." Mr. Carter's opposite was Bill Clinton, on whom fortune smiled with eight years of relative peace and a worldwide economic boom. What misfortune Mr. Clinton experienced he mostly created himself. History didn't impose it.
But Mr. Obama is starting to look unlucky, and–file this under Mysteries of Leadership–that is dangerous for him because Americans get nervous when they have a snakebit president. They want presidents on whom the sun shines.
The administration's failure to take impressive action after the spill dinged its reputation for competence. The president's failure to turn things around Tuesday night with a speech damaged his reputation as a man whose rhetorical powers are such that he can turn things around with a speech. He lessened his own mystique. Reaction among his usual supporters was, in the words of Time's Mark Halperin, "fierce, unforeseen disappointment."
I love this quote:
The right didn't like the speech either.
As for the center, Nielsen reported that 32 million people watched the speech, as compared to 48 million viewers that watched the State of the Union. Ronald Reagan once said you should never confuse the reviews with the box office. This was the box office voting with its clickers.
Reagan was right. It's the audience, not the critics, that decides what makes a hit, or a successful president.
There is a growing meme that Mr. Obama is too impressed by credentialism, by the meritocracy, by those who hold forth in the faculty lounge, and too strongly identifies with them. He should be more impressed by those with real-world experience. It was the "small people" in the shrimp boats who laid the boom.
And when speaking of why proper precautions and safety measures were not in place, the president sternly declared, "I want to know why." But two months in he should know. And he should be telling us. Such empty sternness is . . . empty.
Peggy is really good today.
...it's also true that among Democrats—and others—when the talk turns to the presidency it turns more and more to Hillary Clinton. "We may have made a mistake. She would have been better." Sooner or later the secretary of state is going to come under fairly consistent pressure to begin to consider 2012. A hunch: She won't really want to. Because she has enjoyed being loyal. She didn't only prove to others she could be loyal, a team player. She proved it to herself. And it has only added to her luster.
COMMENT: Ah, and what will she do with that luster? Hillary has become more interesting than Barack, and that is not a compliment to a president.
June 18, 2010