Thursday, April 21, 2011

Obama's Likeability Gap

Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal points out something that the MSM lamestream print and electronic media, not even Fox News to a great extent, have even noticed on their fever charts when it comes to the 2012 election. Likeability as one projects on the big-TV screen is now perhaps one of the chief stylistic measurement tools of the electiblility of a candidate. And Obama is beginning to show major cracks in his facade of no-drama cool he's been trying to project during the various crises besetting his administration.
If it is true, as Michelle Obama said in February, that her husband isn't smoking anymore, maybe he'd better start mellowing out with the cigs again before it costs him the presidency.

The Barack Obama we've been seeing lately is a different personality than the one that made a miracle run to the White House in 2008.

Obama.2008 was engaging, patient, open, optimistic and a self-identified conciliator.

Obama.2011 has been something else—testy, petulant, impatient, arrogant and increasingly a divider.

Never forget: That historic 2008 victory came with 52.9% of the total vote and 52% of independent voters. David Axelrod recently noted "how small the margin for error is."

Presidential personality is well inside the margin of error for 2012, but the one on display recently has not been attractive. And it's happening a lot.

This Monday, after wrapping up a White House interview with a Dallas TV reporter, the station reported that Mr. Obama said: "Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, alright?"

This self-referencing, snappish tone tracks with the president's "open mic" comments last week at a Chicago fund-raiser. Dismissing the GOP as "nickel and diming" him on budget negotiations, he asked, "You think we're stupid?" White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president wasn't embarrassed. But he should be. Not because his comments were caught, but because suddenly he's sounding more like Travis Bickle ("You talkin' to me?") than the president of the United States.

Travis Bickel in De Niro's unforgettable personification of the world's nastiest cab driver is an appropriate metaphor for this increasingly nasty piece-of-work in the Oval Office. The no-drama man is turning into an authoritarian with his refusal to accept Congressional restrictions on funding his unaccountable "czars" and his apparent imminent presidential executive order that would implement portions of the "DISCLOSE Act." His invitation to Paul Ryan to sit in the front row of his budget response to Ryan's proposals might be an indicator of what Henninger notices is a Mr. Hyde version of the Won:
Now he's deconstructing himself into another Obama. The latest Obama, which seems genuine, routinely ridicules and mocks his opposition. He mocks pretty much anyone who disagrees with him about anything.

Last week, official Washington gathered at George Washington University to hear the president make his contribution to the fiscal-policy debate. What they got was something else (just as the members of the Supreme Court got something else at last year's State of the Union speech). The person who said memorably in 2008 that there were no red states or blue states gave a speech essentially reading the Republicans out of the American political system. "This is not a vision of the America I know."

The political left lapped it up. Finally, wrote the progressive punditariat, Barack Obama was acting like their guy, willing to get in the face of the American right. At last, an American president was calling out conservatism as nothing less than a violation of "the basic social compact in America."

This is strong stuff, which implies that opposition to his convoluted health and other plans is somehow an assault on the values that make America the country conservatives love and also implies that political opposition is somehow not legitimate when it comes to confronting Obama's entire kaleidoscopic inchoate and protean series of big government aggrandizement on entire new areas of the American economy.
Gallup just reported that the Obama approval rate among independent voters stands at 35%. The conventional reply to this is that the American people fundamentally "like" Barack Obama, or that the GOP candidate will make the election an unlikability Olympics.

What voters like is the memory of the historic Obama they voted into the office of the presidency. The person they voted for in 2008 is different than the person who kicked off his presidential campaign last week by personally stomping his opposition.

Somehow voters are apparently expected to "like" whichever version Mr. Obama chooses to give them. It is asking a lot. By definition, this is a gap, and it's looking like it could be a dangerous one for the incumbent.

I'm old enough to remember how suddent the ground disappeared from under the feet of Jimmy Carter back in the '79-80 run-up to his re-election. Suddenly, the MSM lamestream began to notice some of Carter's missteps that had previously been brushed off as mere peccadillos and called him out on the double-digit interest rates, mortgage rates, unemployment rates and inflation rate. Suddenly it became VERY apparent that Carter's incompetence across the political, economic and foreign policy board was a feature, not a bug.

And Reagan waltzed to a resounding victory.

Where is Ronnie Reagan or someone like him when we need him.

Chris Christie isn't the "answer," nor is Marco Rubio, but either would be preferable to the second-raters now leaning towards entering the GOP ring. Obama proved that a long CV is not a prerequisite to sudden elevation to eminence in American politics.

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