If we were paying the President by the hour, the economic crisis would be worse. After the Tonight Show, 60 Minutes and town halls everywhere, we get a prime-time news conference this evening.
If that sounds like a complaint, it isn’t. In this time of multiple anxieties, Barack Obama, despite the inevitability of falling approval ratings, has succeeded brilliantly as Comforter-in-Chief.
With his remarkable capacity to put mixed feelings into context (i.e., the AIG bonuses are an outrage, but we can’t afford to govern out of anger and then helping bury the nutty House tax bill), Obama is just the President we need psychologically at this moment, no matter what reservations we may have about specific moves such as the stimulus and the bank bailout.
“Obama Dials Down Wall Street Criticism” proclaims the Wall Street Journal today, as he reaches out for a public-private answer to the credit crunch, the latest step in his progress from defining the problem to trying to solve it.
Frustrated Republicans are reduced to sneers and nitpicking. As Carl Ericson observes at Simply Left Behind: “It’s driving his opponents crazy. Obama has at once lifted himself above the fray while encouraging the fray using surrogates. The more conservatives focus on Obama’s miscues and teleprompters, the more the American people will understand that the GOP offers no rational alternative at this time, that they are spinning their wheels waiting for an opportunity to seize the upper hand on an issue of substance.”