Our political Quotes of the Day indicate big trouble for President Barack Obama as the stock markets plunge in light of Standard & Poors sticking it to the United States — and the United States’ elections-obsessed political class — on its credit rating. He’s under renewed political fire. But not from expected quarters which engage in 24/7 fire, even over the most trivial things.
But, no, the fire he shouldn’t worry about is the New York Post running yet another story somehow suggesting that if a President has a birthday party related event in a crisis it somehow means he doesn’t care about or isn’t working on the crisis. Even partisans (even those who write letters to the editor) know that is utter malarky and that the birthday event is being used as a pretext to continue partisan attack and negatively define.
And the fire he shouldn’t worry about are people seeking his job in 2012 who choose to ignore the role of their party in creating a lousy economy and in making Standard & Poors — and others around the world — begin to conclude that America’s politics may be hopelessly mired in partisanship game playing and the talk radio political culture to the extent where substantive compromise may now be impossible and needed fixes may be a thing of the past. The question is being asked: is American democracy broke? Another question becomes: is the danger now less “Tyranny of the Majority” than “Tyranny of the Minority?” (Just asking..)
No, Barack Obama’s big, new problem is that those who supported him or gave him a fair shake are concluding that he may not just appear to be hapless but may actually be hapless. Only Obama himself can erase and negate these fears.
It’s not that he’s in danger or being called “another Carter.” He’s in danger of being a name for a new class of President “another Obama” — one who seemingly lacks the passion to rally and take command.
Yet Obama plods along, raising gobs of cash for his reelection bid — he was scheduled to speak at two DNC fundraisers Monday night — and varying little the words he reads from the teleprompter.
Note that the teleprompter as a code word has up till now been a partisan tool. In reality almost ALL modern Presidents have extensively used teleprompters and some politicians such as Sarah Palin even wrote notes on their hand. MORE:
He seemed detached even from those words Monday as he pivoted his head from side to side, proclaiming that “our problems is not confidence in our credit” and turning his bipartisan fiscal commission into a “biparticle.”
Another bad sign. Milbank and others feel his body language seemed to suggest that Obama himself was offbeat. Scared? Unsure of himself? No matter. A perception and a narrative is emerging now that won’t help Obama — or the United States — with increasingly panicked world markets. And:
He reminded all that the situation isn’t his fault (the need for deficit reduction “was true the day I took office”), he blamed the other side (“we knew .?.?. a debate where the threat of default was used as a bargaining chip could do enormous damage to our economy”) and he revisited the same proposals he had previously offered to little effect: extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut, and spending more on infrastructure projects.
This, he said, is “something we can do as soon as Congress gets back,” along with further deficit reduction. “I intend to present my own recommendations over the coming weeks,” he said.
Over the coming weeks? As soon as Congress gets back?
And here is the kicker: it was pile on time in the White House press room.
Another bad sign for Obama (and the United States):
In the White House briefing room after Obama’s statement, the press corps grilled Jay Carney about the lack of fire in the belly.
“The president said our problems are imminently solvable, and he talked about a renewed sense of urgency,” CBS’s Norah O’Donnell pointed out. “Why not call Congress back to work?”
Carney chuckled at this suggestion.
“I mean, the Dow dropped below 11,000 — where’s the sense of urgency?” O’Donnell persisted.
The press secretary uttered something about the founders and the separation of powers.
NBC’s Chuck Todd was not swayed. “Why not bring Congress back now?” he repeated, pointing out that “the American public seems to be in a little bit of a panic” while Washington says, “We’re going to stand back and wait until school starts.”
Chuck Todd is the quintessential analyst professional. Another bad sign.
“I think we’re getting a drumbeat here,” Carney said. “The press corps is leading here — always appreciated.”
At least somebody is.
Various reporters tried to elicit more information about Obama’s economic plans and deficit-reduction proposals, but Carney declined again to take the lead.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of the process,” he explained to the Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler, adding that Obama “will be contributing to that process, not driving it or directing it.”
“Why?” inquired Politico’s Glenn Thrush. “He’s the leader of the free world. Why isn’t he leading this process?”
That is the enduring mystery of Obama’s presidency. He delivered his statement on the economy beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, but that was as close as he came to forceful leadership. He looked grim and swallowed hard and frequently as he mixed fatalism (“markets will rise and fall”) with vague, patriotic exhortations (“this is the United States of America”).
A very bad sign.
“There will always be economic factors that we can’t control,” Obama said. Maybe. But it would be nice if the president gave it a try.
Part of an editorial in Gannett’s Muncie Star-Press:
Is anybody listening to President Obama?
Apparently not, judging by how the stock market continued it almost uninterrupted plunge Monday, despite Obama’s pathetic efforts to try to soothe and encourage stock holders and investors.
Instead of leadership from the White House, we got slogans. “Markets will rise and fall,” he said. “But this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we’ve always been and always will be a triple-A country.”
……Obama is not a miracle worker, and the markets would have reacted negatively no matter what Obama said, but the plunge might not have been so steep if he had issued a statement on Saturday or Sunday.
Had he done so, your 401(k) retirement fund might be in better shape than it is this morning.
Obama said most of the world’s investors agree the U.S. remains a wise place to put their money.
Unfortunately, there is far less money to put, thanks to an inattentive president who failed to act.
Of course, there are many who offer advice on how to lead. Michael Moore, for instance:
Liberal firebrand Michael Moore called on President Obama to respond to the U.S. credit downgrade by arresting the leaders of the credit-ratings agencies.
On his Twitter feed Monday, the Oscar-winning film director also blamed the 2008 economic collapse on Standard & Poor’s — apparently because it and other credit-ratings agencies did not downgrade mortgage-based bonds, which encouraged the housing bubble and let it spread throughout the economy.
“Pres Obama, show some guts & arrest the CEO of Standard & Poors. These criminals brought down the economy in 2008& now they will do it again,” Mr. Moore wrote.
Standard & Poor’s, one of three key debt agencies, stripped the U.S. federal government of its AAA status Friday night and reduced it to AA+ for the first time in the nation’s history.
Mr. Moore went on to note that the “owners of S&P are old Bush family friends,” continuing a theme he has developed through several films about capitalism as essentially a crony system for the rich and Wall Street, especially the Bush family.
Of course, if Obama followed Moore’s advice the United States would be a laughingstock. It’d be like be blaming the doctor for cancer if he told you you had cancer.
But, then, who is giving Obama advice about being beats behind not just the news cycle but financial markets in responding? And offering essentially the same reassurances without appearing and at least eliciting a fleeting thought that he is reminescent of a Lincoln, FDR, Harry Truman or even a low key but in command Dwight Eisenhower?
Is the big political story here that we’re seeing the emergence of a new political label: “another Obama?”
And that it ain’t exactly a compliment?
There’s a growing perception that the administration and President don’t know what to do and are perhaps even becoming panicked by new political constraints, stalled job growth and economic forces beyond their control. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets ready to jump into the Republican Presidential nomination one person must be smiling:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.