Jennifer Rubin on Obama’s “Graciousness Deficit”

by Little Miss Attila on January 27, 2009

Within 24 hours of when I began referring to Obama as “President Hubris,” Rubin proved that “great minds think alike”:

We are seeing, I think, the unlimited hubris of a candidate enjoying sky-high poll ratings and media adoration who believes he owes his opponents only civility, but not respect. And it suggests that the need to maintain the high-wire act of “change” (without the benefit of true policy innovation) feeds the constant need to differentiate himself from — and ultimately diminish– his predecessor and opponents.

The danger is that he loses that rarest of presidential commodities, which is the ability to operate on a higher plane than the squabbling politicians and sniping pundits surrounding him. Indeed, by invoking Limbaugh’s name he brought on not only a finely crafted response (which made a convincing case that the stimulus is a political maneuver—not an economic recovery plan), but ensnared himself in exactly the sort of political bric-a-brac he wants to avoid.

It may not matter in the end because he does, after all, have the votes to pass much of his agenda. But it is being remembered and absorbed by his opponents, and even by less politically-minded onlookers. They might wonder why the new president who has the luxury to be magnanimous isn’t. And when the going gets tough, or his Congressional majority narrows (as it usually does after the first mid-year election), he might need the good will of the other party.

So perhaps President Obama, who has an overabundance of confidence, can settle into his new surroundings and find ways to maintain his own standing without sniping at his opponents.

. . . . . . . . .

President Obama is an elegant man who enjoys the goodwill of most citizens. He should not fritter away his standing nor diminish his stature by perpetuating “childish things,” including a constant stream of one-upsmanship. Graciousness goes a long way in life, and in politics.

And it may come in handy some day.

My boss thinks Big O’s rudeness toward Bush-43 and other Republicans is another way of symbolically giving the Left what they crave, so he doesn’t have to create as many actual policy differences as he otherwise might. The problem with this strategy—if indeed that’s the rationale behind it—is that as much as my own political allies don’t seem to see it, Leftists are no more stupid than Right-wingers, as a class. They may be more gullible when it comes to the media, and the degree to which that is the case is the crux of the matter (unless, as VDH suggests, the media will also get tired of carrying Obama’s water within a couple of years).

But as a class, lefties are no stupider than righties: you can fool some of the lefties all of the time, or all of the lefties some of the time.

Furthermore, everyone—left, right, and center—wants to see the economy succeed. And when it gets worse, there will be a stampede to see who that many really is, behind the curtain.

Well: it’s a kid from the Chicago machine who’s terribly bright, but in over his head.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Darrell January 27, 2009 at 9:55 pm

“…everyone—left, right, and center—wants to see the economy succeed”

I respectfully disagree. The Left has been battling Capitalism since it emerged from Marx and Engel’s collective ass(es?). They want THEIR economy to succeed–they don’t care if that takes the form of a check from their favorite uncle as a grant or an outright handout. When the rest of the country was planning a response to 9/11, the Dems were holding secret meetings around the country planning their “Talk Down The Economy” strategy for the 2002 Midterm Elections. Ditto every year since. I would love to have access to all the detailed market data for the run-up of World oil prices beginning in 2003 and the subsequent trades triggering the market falls, especially program trading, for pre-September 2008. My gut tells me the gains from the former financed the losses of the latter. And even Inspector Clouseau would start with the beneficiary in his investigation.

Barack Obama is the Great Pretender. He’s the guy that shows up for the first day of work dressing and acting as if he’s the CEO–or at least a legend in the field–all without a single accomplishment to back it up. Didn’t Lawrence Tribe from Harvard say he knew that Barack was destined for greatness at their first meeting, and that he immediately designed an individualized program for him knowing that he wasn’t ever to do grunt work like legal memoranda or briefs because he was destined for setting strategy and ‘big picture’ management? Really? After a few minutes? And here I thought everyone had to start with the basics. Did Barack ACT like one of the Law School professors on that first day?
How did he act at Colombia? We would know if any of the known students in the required classes for his Major that met in a classroom, not a lecture hall, even remembered a student by the name of Barack Obama(according to the guys who spent the last year trying to find any). How do Colombia grads feel about the other known ‘students’ who didn’t complete coursework but received a Colombia degree as a result of knowing an influential Leftist like Bill Ayers?(revealed by former Colombia professors) Betrayed? Happy? Stick-It-To-The-Man?

Look at the proposed new spending. How much of it will actually improve the economy? 10%? 20%? Trick question, 0%? Seems like every tired program getting a new life, few of which actually have anything to do with economic recovery.

Chaos provides the grease for the “emergency” programs the Left has been waiting for. Recovery can wait as long as most people blame Bush for the mess. Seems to me the Left is getting everything they’ve wanted for a century as fast as the Democrats can write the law. They even have John McCain on standby, waiting to take it to the printers. Since we all know Barack has wanted to be POTUS since he was five, thanks to Hill, and most five-year-olds start their platform with saying that they would give everyone a million dollars, maybe there is hope. Maybe someone can suggest something to do with it in the fifteen second that it will be worth anything. Gold? Tulip bulbs? A condo in Mexico? You better ask for direct deposit and have a fast internet connection.

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Little Miss Attila January 28, 2009 at 9:30 am

I should have specified: the people *I* know who are still Leftists–because they carry too much of the 1960s around with them–want the economy to succeed.

Unfortunately, they know nothing about economics, and they didn’t have you to recommend the Amity Shlaes book.

Obama is poised to repeat history–with a vengeance.

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