Alex Massie

Is Obama A Failure? (Already!)

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It's not been an error-free start for the new President has it? But, really, even for the internet age, some of the reaction to the stumbles is laughably over the top. So much so, of course, that Obama can draw some comfort from that. Here, for instance, is Victor Davis Hanson writing at National Review:

We are quite literally after two weeks teetering on an Obama implosion—and with no Dick Morris to bail him out—brought on by messianic delusions of grandeur, hubris, and a strange naivete that soaring rhetoric and a multiracial profile can add requisite cover to good old-fashioned Chicago politicking.



We will know this is unlikely when Dick Morris, who has been unfailingly wrong about everything for years also tells us that Obama is doomed.

It's true that the scale of the problems he faces is incomparably greater than those faced by Clinton or either of the Bushes. That alone may dim his Presidency; true too that there have been mistakes. But, look, some kind of stimulus bill will be passed and there's nothing terribly contoversial or unusual about the Senate improving the hideous mess that the House has sent them. (While, of course, making the bill worse in other respects.) The Daschle and Geithner tax issue is embarrassing but scarcely crippling: no-one will give a hoot about it if Geithner performs well at Treasury and, as I say, passing healthcare reform is, for Democrats, more important than the identity of the chap leading the legislation. 

And, look too, all administrations have rocky moments at the beginning. We like to think of there being 100 Days of Action and Change and Other Good Things at the beginning of a new Presidency, but the truth is that while there can be rhetorical shifts and the President can sign executive orders, it takes time for anything to have much of an impact in Washington. And it takes time to learn how to use the Presidency and understand just how the vast, byzantine, US government actually functions.

This is true even when you surround yourself with experienced Washington old-timers. George W Bush's first six months in office were not, if you remember, filled with great achievements. Indeed, in the August doldrums of 2001 the general view was that this lacklustre administration showed every sign of being a one term deal. Events, of course, changed that.

One final note: Obama's favourability rating? Still at around 70%.

UPDATE: Ah, the proof is in the pudding. Sure enough, Maureen Dowd piles on today. Her column is headlined "Well, that didn't take long." What's noticeable is the relish with which Modo explains the rules of the Washington Game to the fresh-faced new President. And that reminds me: media-political Washington doesn't mind being hated by the rest of the country. That's what it's there for. And, also, of course, it doesn't really want the rules to change. There's a hint of this in Modo's (typically glib) column: Who do you think you are, Mr Obama? You and your new ideas and ethics. Sheesh!

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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