Obama's Never-Ending Worst Week Ever

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Trader666, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. The Never-Ending Worst Week Ever
    Abe Greenwald

    Barack Obama is on an open-ended run of “worsts.” The New York Post’s Michael Goodwin opened his November 7 column thus: “He took a ‘shellacking,’ a 2012 poll shows him trailing two Republicans, and losing candidates in his own party are griping about his ‘tone deaf’ leadership. And the Mad Hatter, Nancy Pelosi, refuses to exit quietly. Welcome to Barack Obama's worst week in the Oval Office.”

    Days later, on November 12, Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio told the Daily News: “This certainly was the worst 10 days of [Obama’s] political life.” Commenting on the president’s failed Asia trip, Muzzio noted, "He came back with bupkis,” and said, "Given that he's not going to be able to get any domestic achievements with the Republicans in control of the House ... if he doesn't do it in foreign policy that's a big problem for him.”

    Today, those two look like the boys who cried worst. Look at the big-ticket disasters that have struck the administration since Muzzio’s diagnosis. Senator Jon Kyl announced his plan to block ratification of the New START arms control treaty with Russia — Obama’s single foreign-policy bragging point. Then, in a perverse miscarriage of wartime justice, a jury in a civilian court found Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani not guilty of 284 out of 285 charges of conspiracy and murder relating to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Nairobi. This was an inch-perfect demonstration of the failure of Obama’s plan to try more terrorism suspects as mere criminals.

    Every day brings fresh defeat to the administration. Aside from the pivotal headline events, there are the small roiling undercurrents and large extended cliffhangers: the challenge in Afghanistan, more government waivers being quietly granted to employers who otherwise would be crushed by ObamaCare, the anti-TSA fanaticism, the pushback on quantitative easing, the pushback on ending the Bush tax cuts.

    On some of those issues, the president may very well be forced to triangulate.

    But is it not becoming clear that on the most crucial fronts, Barack Obama is somewhat beyond a centrist escape route? Moving to the center is a political solution; Obama’s problem is beyond politics. His predicament has put the fundamental health of the country at risk. It’s no longer useful to speak of Obama’s or the Democrats’ problem, but rather of our problem; hence the radical nature of the suggestions from within the Democratic camp. Democratic consultants Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen took to the pages of the Washington Post to advise Obama not to seek re-election. “From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future,” they write. “The best way for [Obama] to address both our national challenges and the serious threats to his credibility and stature is to make clear that, for the next two years, he will focus exclusively on the problems we face as Americans, rather than the politics of the moment — or of the 2012 campaign.” At a press breakfast in Washington, Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg offered this advice to the president: “I don’t think there is any reason why you can’t reset and start over. I think he can say, got it wrong.”

    Indeed, a reset is more relevant here than a pivot. The idea of political triangulation almost becomes a logical non sequitur when applied to the Obama presidency. Barack Obama came to Washington to remake things. His biggest failures don’t come from liberal adornments added on to standard policies; they are more like inventions, unprecedented creations that were forced into existence before being revealed as hazardous. ObamaCare, the stimulus, the establishment of an unexceptional America — there is no pivot away from these. We either retain them or abandon them.

    We’ve already seen the inutile results of “compromise” on some of these issues. The selective application of ObamaCare is a threat to our tradition of equality under the law; the arbitrary designation of some terror suspects as enemy combatants while others face civil juries creates national-security incoherence; the simultaneous announcement of both a troop surge and a withdrawal date in Afghanistan did incalculable damage to out war effort. Calls for compromise are essentially calls to go forward half-pregnant with bad policy.

    Here’s a mordant laugh. On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer said, “Every administration has a period where things just go haywire, nothing seems to go right. But I can’t recall a week like the Obama White House has had.” That was June 6, when Obama’s worst week was composed of lame PR attempts to deal with an oil spill that was not — at all — his fault. But clearly, as far back as June, the American people sensed that not all was well with the state of the country. The spill was convenient prey — and Barack Obama has scarcely had a week that easy since. What this really means is that our worst week ever has been going on for almost six months. This is a full season of collective uncertainty. With no reset on the horizon, the concept of worst is becoming infinitely elastic.