Up until then-candidate Barack Obama’s celebrated (in the media) speech on race in Philadelphia following the revelation of the racist rants of his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright, I saw the Democrat as a political leader able to unite the nation.
He has political gifts similar to those of the Gipper, a natural stage presence and a winning smile. But, not even a week in office, Obama showed instead the traits not of the greatest Republican president of the last century but of one of the two worst (while putting forward policies similar to those of the other member of that dishonorable duo).
If the president really wants to unite the nation, he needs learn from two liberal icons, each of whom flourished in the decade of his birth, Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, the latter known in the Senate as the “Happy Warrior,” a title to which it seemed Obama once aspired. Both advocated a liberal program, neither did so by whining about his critics.
By contrast, Obama’s latest rants against his adversaries have caused one of his ideological confrères to dub him the Whiner-in-Chief. Perhaps, the Democrat aspires to be the cranky warrior, more obsessed than any of his predecessors of belittling the one who immediately preceded him.
He has become perhaps more bitter about critical news coverage than any of his predecessors even Nixon. As George Will put it, few presidents have had less reason to complain about news coverage than the incumbent. His predecessor received far worse (far, far worse) press on nearly every network than Obama receives on just the one his team singles out for scorn. And yet W didn’t let the criticism get to him.
What is it about Obama?
But, maybe needing to complain, needing to criticize is part of the Democrat’s modus operandi. Maybe that is why he flourished in the campaign. He succeeded by having someone to demonize.
Blogging law professor William A. Jacobson wonders “if Obama is incapable — psychologically, philosophically, intellectually — of stopping the campaign“:
Having no substantive achievement in his life other than his own political career, Obama’s claim to the throne was that he claimed the throne. Much like the proverbial dog chasing the car, now that Obama has caught the throne, he doesn’t know what to do with it.
And unlike the Gipper, many of whose political gifts he shares, he didn’t make the ideas of his political philosophy the issues of his campaign.