Obama: Losing friends and gaining enemies
The only thing comparable to what has happened to Barack Obama I can think of would be the absolute dissolution of support for Jimmy Carter in '77-78. He too began his administration with enormously high hopes, only to see his incompetence lead to a huge decline in approval ratings and the abandonment of his party and friends.
For Obama, throw in arrogance - his own and his staff's - and you have the spectacle of liberal bloggers cheering on one of their own who took Obama aide David Axelrod to task for the White House bashing of the the far left.
Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere's anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of "hippie punching."
"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day," the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.
The call seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with the bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems.
"You play a great role in informing people about the stakes of elections," Axelrod told the bloggers. "One of the reasons I was eager to expend time was to enlist you."
The nutroots have been complaining for months about Obama's "centrist" approach to governing and the administration's keeping the liberals at arms length while enacting their agenda. No doubt they will still pimp for Democrats in the election, if only to desperately try and cling to whatever power they have left. But it will be done with no enthusiasm.
If the situation with the far left online community weren't bad enough, Obama continues to lose support in the press. James Taranto reports of the major defection of Margaret Carlson:
To be precise, she now thinks he's kind of a jerk--that's our paraphrase; as you'll see, she puts it considerably more gently--which means that her view of Obama has caught up to where conservatives were two years ago and Middle American moderate independents this time in 2009.
Carlson comments on Obama's famous face-off, at a CNBC "town hall" the other day, with Velma Hart, an Obama supporter who, employing an O'Donnellesque unidiomatic preposition, told the president she was "exhausted of defending you." Carlson chides the president for his condescending response:
"Now, as I said before, times are tough for everybody right now, so I understand your frustration," he told Hart, after rather clumsily praising her as part of "the bedrock of America" and before citing new credit-card rules and student-loan procedures as evidence of progress.
"As I said" always carries with it the implied question, Weren't you paying attention? "For everybody" telegraphs you're one out of millions, nothing special.
And "everybody" isn't suffering, which is the truth that gets to the heart of Obama's problem and makes his brushing off Hart as much substance as theater.
Can Obama get his mojo back? Allahpundit:
Ironically, it's the unhappy Democrats - many of whom are no doubt the hippies the White House keeps punching - who'll be out in force in November because, when push comes to shove, it's more important to the left to keep the GOP out of power than it is to punish Obama for being too, ahem, centrist. Which, of course, explains why the White House is willing to take liberals for granted (and why the GOP is willing to take tea partiers for granted) but doesn't explain what, precisely, Axelrod wants from the blogosphere. If most of the liberal blogs and their readers are unhappy with O and yet almost all are sure to vote anyway to try to stop the "conservative Taliban," what good does he think a big bloggy push towards November is really going to do? Believe me, I've seen this phenomenon from the other side - partisans grudgingly forced to rally behind a guy at the top whom they're less than thrilled with - and I assure you: The story ends badly.
It's very hard to predict things, but I would start watching the State Department very closely for signs that Hillary wants out. She won't have much time if she leaves after the election - barely a year to New Hampshire at that point. And challenging a sitting president from your own party is suicidal - even in this case.
Nevertheless, the pressure on her to run following the coming debacle in November will be enormous - much as it was for Kennedy in the summer of 1979. Would Obama forestall a run by her by dumping Biden and choosing her for a running mate?
Politics is a strange game.