The liberal mainstream media seem to be turning with a vengeance on Barack Obama. Columns and articles bemoaning the president’s acute lack of inspirational leadership, and the likelihood of a Democratic bloodbath in November, seem to be the order of the day.
For example, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, always a bellwether of trendy media thinking, has a piece this week – billed by the magazine as “a ‘pre-mortem’ for the Democrats” – delving into the various reasons for Obama’s sharp slide in the polls and his party’s bleak midterm prospects. The article’s title proclaims, simply yet starkly, “What Went Wrong.”
This isn’t the first time journalists have taken a timeout from what Bernard Goldberg termed their “slobbering love affair” with Obama. Back in March 2009, the Monitor noted that it was “less than two months into Barack Obama’s presidency and the doubters are already coming out of the woodwork – among them several big-name pundits who, just an hour or two ago (or so it seems) were still in full swoon mode for the Miracle Man sent to lift and cleanse us from the hellish Bush-Cheney miasma.”
The Monitor cited the aforementioned Fineman as arguably the first mainstream media figure to break from the slavishly pro-Obama media herd when he wrote earlier that month that “in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking [Obama's] measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.”
Fineman’s article was something of a watershed. “The blasphemy having been uttered, albeit ever so meekly,” the Monitor wrote at the time, “other worshipers began putting down their hymnals and singing a new, more skeptical tune.”
The Monitor quoted from a column by the very liberal Margaret Carlson, who wrote of Obama and his new administration: “It’s up to the new sheriff in town to put things right. Unfortunately, it’s hard to scare the bad guys when your new Treasury secretary comes across like Barney Fife. The new team took over with a whimper, not a bang.”
And Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter who during the 2008 presidential campaign never made a secret of her soft spot for candidate Obama, was suddenly complaining in The Wall Street Journal that President Obama “is willowy when people yearn for solid, reed-like when they hope for substantial, a bright older brother when they want Papa, cool where they probably prefer warmth.”
Some of the sharpest words came form Vanity Fair media columnist Michael Wolff, who delivered the ultimate insult to any president: “Sheesh, the guy is Jimmy Carter.”
Speaking of Jimmy Carter, pollster Patrick Caddell was a vital part of both the successful presidential campaign and the lone, lamentable presidential term of the liver-lipped Sage from Plains. In the decades since angry voters tossed Carter out of the White House, Caddell has cemented his reputation as a blunt political analyst and prognosticator, one who is particularly unsparing in his criticism of his fellow Democrats.
In an interview earlier this month with National Review Online’s Robert Costa, Caddell was absolutely withering in his assessment of Obama and what his performance as president has done to the Democratic party.
“President Obama’s undoing may be his disingenuousness,” said Caddell. “You can’t get this far from what you promised, especially when people invest in hope – you must understand that obligation. The killer in American politics is disappointment. When you are elected on expectations, and you fail to meet them, your decline steepens.”
Referring to the approaching midterm elections, Caddell feels that “We may be at a pre-revolutionary moment. Everything is in motion.” The midterms “will be more of a national referendum than any [midterm election] since Watergate.”
Contrasting Obama with his ex-boss, Caddell says Carter’s “failures were not of the heart or of intent, but, perhaps, of execution. He was never inconsistent with what he originally envisioned. I can’t say the same for Obama.”
Can Obama still turn things around, if not in time for the November midterms then for his own reelection campaign, which, given the nature of modern American politics, will begin in earnest less than a year from now? Caddell’s not so sure.
“Successful presidents,” he said, “realize that it is not about them – that the country is bigger than their presidency. With Obama, it is always about him. It’s a terrible thing to have to say, but I think that it has become obvious.”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.