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.