Obama 2.0 - the SOTU

Ed Lasky
Barack Obama shape-shifting to a  President who displays pride in his nation and also into a "softer, gentler" man is proceeding according to the plan I speculated about in Obama 2.0: the Reinvention Begins.

My column suggested he would transform himself into being a warmer, more personable President and that he would heed the advice of Democratic analyst William Galston who counseled him to articulate American exceptionalism.

How am I doing so far? Has the extreme makeover meant to fool us again started?

Last night's State of the Union address was heavy on atmospherics -- particularly Barack Obama's notice that Americans might actually be proud of our nation and want our President to display pride. He talked of our history of being able to overcome and surpass the Soviet Union's space technology, and of our standing with those who aspire to democracy:

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist.

But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment.
Well, almost behind the scenes, Obama has eviscerated the space program. Aside from this "hypocritical moment" is this the same man who refused to wear the American flag because it was a meaningless, if not harmful and painful, symbol? Is this the same man who equivocated and basically characterized such a view as chauvinistic and simplistic, when asked if he viewed America as an " exceptional nation". He answered

"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

But that  was before the great Democratic shellacking that seemed to have knocked some sense into his head. For all of his talk of jobs, there is one job he is particularly concerned about above all:  his own.  Hence, the Great Pivot has begun.

Barack Obama has also been perceived as a cold fish (though I prefer the symbol of a cold-blooded chameleon that can camouflage itself to survive). He has been derisive towards the media, contemptuous of Republicans, and condescending toward the American people.  He has even belittled his own Vice-President, using him as a butt of jokes. At least six Cabinet members did not even merit a meeting with him during his first two years in office. He clearly does not enjoy press conferences and prefers platitudes delivered by teleprompter rather than relying on his own intelligence and knowledge. His high-living lifestyle -- fancy trips, his Broadway show trip after the inauguration, the series of musical soirees at the White House, pick-up basketball games with a dream team of pros, his frequent visit to the links -- has offended Americans worried about overspending and their own job futures. There is a feeling he is not one of us -- and lives in his own world.

The solution? We are about to see a new kinder and gentler Barack Obama. There is a new effort to connect with us. From Politico:

Barack Obama is letting outsiders inside his White House. He's getting more personal in closed-door meetings and factoring social business into his weekend schedule, a time he typically reserves for family and close friends. He's even using his teleprompter less and considering opening up his golf game, which, with few exceptions, has been restricted to the same handful of people since he took office. 

In short, the new political environment in Washington and the prospect of a daunting reelection bid have forced an intensely private public figure out of his shell. The president, who will address a television audience of more than 50 million people in his 
State of the Union speech Tuesday night, is mingling more with groups that number in the dozens or less. One form of communication he has always been comfortable with; the other he has been slow to embrace. 

Just Monday night, freshmen members of Congress invited to a pre-State of the Union reception at the White House were treated to the height of Obama hospitality: a photo receiving line with the president. It's a grip-and-grin presidential mainstay that Obama has mostly avoided and privately loathed.


"It seems he's getting the idea that all this socializing is not such a bad thing," said Mike McCurry, former President Bill Clinton's onetime press secretary. "The biggest missing ingredient in the functioning of Washington is trust, and you can't build trust if you don't know someone. And getting to know someone is more than just reading them your talking points from a briefing book. So I think this effort to socialize and this effort to build personal relationships is really about restoring some basic functionality to Washington, D.C. It's fundamentally important."

The shift comes after two years of criticism of Obama for being distant and holding even his allies at arm's length. It seems just about everyone in Washington has at some point accused Obama of being standoffish: Congressional Democrats have said he's inaccessible; Republicans have said he makes only politically calculated social calls; business executives and liberal groups have felt they were on the outside looking in, and reporters who cover Obama daily have complained he doesn't know them or seem interested in getting to know them, unlike his recent predecessors, Clinton and George W. Bush.

He apparently is even using the teleprompter less, after being criticized for his dependency on it not just by critics and comedians but even by Walter Mondale, who called them "idiot boards." His words, not mine.

Will the mask stay on?

One can only hope that he exposes himself to the public more, absent the teleprompter. When he is off script, we often see the real Barack Obama emerge. The one who says "suburbs bore me"  (implying that those of us who live in suburbs are implicitly "boring" compared to him and live lives that are "boring" compared to his) and that small town people " get bitter" and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment."

I infer only metrosexuals and urban people matter to him.

Will he again boast that under his programs energy costs will necessarily soar and that coal mines will go bankrupt? Will we hear the rage towards "fat cats" and greedy doctors? Will he brag that "spreading the wealth" is his idea of how boost the economy?

Will Americans buy what is again being sold by the master snake-oil salesman? Will history be repeated as tragedy?
Barack Obama shape-shifting to a  President who displays pride in his nation and also into a "softer, gentler" man is proceeding according to the plan I speculated about in Obama 2.0: the Reinvention Begins.

My column suggested he would transform himself into being a warmer, more personable President and that he would heed the advice of Democratic analyst William Galston who counseled him to articulate American exceptionalism.

How am I doing so far? Has the extreme makeover meant to fool us again started?

Last night's State of the Union address was heavy on atmospherics -- particularly Barack Obama's notice that Americans might actually be proud of our nation and want our President to display pride. He talked of our history of being able to overcome and surpass the Soviet Union's space technology, and of our standing with those who aspire to democracy:

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist.

But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment.
Well, almost behind the scenes, Obama has eviscerated the space program. Aside from this "hypocritical moment" is this the same man who refused to wear the American flag because it was a meaningless, if not harmful and painful, symbol? Is this the same man who equivocated and basically characterized such a view as chauvinistic and simplistic, when asked if he viewed America as an " exceptional nation". He answered

"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

But that  was before the great Democratic shellacking that seemed to have knocked some sense into his head. For all of his talk of jobs, there is one job he is particularly concerned about above all:  his own.  Hence, the Great Pivot has begun.

Barack Obama has also been perceived as a cold fish (though I prefer the symbol of a cold-blooded chameleon that can camouflage itself to survive). He has been derisive towards the media, contemptuous of Republicans, and condescending toward the American people.  He has even belittled his own Vice-President, using him as a butt of jokes. At least six Cabinet members did not even merit a meeting with him during his first two years in office. He clearly does not enjoy press conferences and prefers platitudes delivered by teleprompter rather than relying on his own intelligence and knowledge. His high-living lifestyle -- fancy trips, his Broadway show trip after the inauguration, the series of musical soirees at the White House, pick-up basketball games with a dream team of pros, his frequent visit to the links -- has offended Americans worried about overspending and their own job futures. There is a feeling he is not one of us -- and lives in his own world.

The solution? We are about to see a new kinder and gentler Barack Obama. There is a new effort to connect with us. From Politico:

Barack Obama is letting outsiders inside his White House. He's getting more personal in closed-door meetings and factoring social business into his weekend schedule, a time he typically reserves for family and close friends. He's even using his teleprompter less and considering opening up his golf game, which, with few exceptions, has been restricted to the same handful of people since he took office. 

In short, the new political environment in Washington and the prospect of a daunting reelection bid have forced an intensely private public figure out of his shell. The president, who will address a television audience of more than 50 million people in his 
State of the Union speech Tuesday night, is mingling more with groups that number in the dozens or less. One form of communication he has always been comfortable with; the other he has been slow to embrace. 

Just Monday night, freshmen members of Congress invited to a pre-State of the Union reception at the White House were treated to the height of Obama hospitality: a photo receiving line with the president. It's a grip-and-grin presidential mainstay that Obama has mostly avoided and privately loathed.


"It seems he's getting the idea that all this socializing is not such a bad thing," said Mike McCurry, former President Bill Clinton's onetime press secretary. "The biggest missing ingredient in the functioning of Washington is trust, and you can't build trust if you don't know someone. And getting to know someone is more than just reading them your talking points from a briefing book. So I think this effort to socialize and this effort to build personal relationships is really about restoring some basic functionality to Washington, D.C. It's fundamentally important."

The shift comes after two years of criticism of Obama for being distant and holding even his allies at arm's length. It seems just about everyone in Washington has at some point accused Obama of being standoffish: Congressional Democrats have said he's inaccessible; Republicans have said he makes only politically calculated social calls; business executives and liberal groups have felt they were on the outside looking in, and reporters who cover Obama daily have complained he doesn't know them or seem interested in getting to know them, unlike his recent predecessors, Clinton and George W. Bush.

He apparently is even using the teleprompter less, after being criticized for his dependency on it not just by critics and comedians but even by Walter Mondale, who called them "idiot boards." His words, not mine.

Will the mask stay on?

One can only hope that he exposes himself to the public more, absent the teleprompter. When he is off script, we often see the real Barack Obama emerge. The one who says "suburbs bore me"  (implying that those of us who live in suburbs are implicitly "boring" compared to him and live lives that are "boring" compared to his) and that small town people " get bitter" and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment."

I infer only metrosexuals and urban people matter to him.

Will he again boast that under his programs energy costs will necessarily soar and that coal mines will go bankrupt? Will we hear the rage towards "fat cats" and greedy doctors? Will he brag that "spreading the wealth" is his idea of how boost the economy?

Will Americans buy what is again being sold by the master snake-oil salesman? Will history be repeated as tragedy?