Can you hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from 1600 Pennslyvania Avenue? It's Pres. Obama & Co. reacting to Zbigniew Brzezinki pinning on Barack Obama the word that doomed Jimmy Carter: "malaise."
On Morning Joe, Carter's former national security adviser said there "is a sense of pervasive malaise" in America. What's worse, suggested Zbig, Pres. Obama hasn't been able to figure out how to deal with the malaise. Ruh-roh!
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I think we're now going through a phase in which there is a sense of pervasive malaise, which affects different groups in society in different ways. So people are dissatisfied; they're slightly worried; they don't see a good certain future for themselves or for the country, but in their own narrow sphere. There's no grand mobilizing idea. And I have a sense that Obama, who started so well, and who really captivated people—he captivated me!—has not been able yet to generate some sort of organizing idea for an age which combines a malaise that's pervasive and percolating, and complexity.. . .
PAT BUCHANAN: We need a new paradigm!
BREZINSKI: And the President hasn't articulated it.
BUCHANAN: No he hasn't.
BREZINSKI: There goes any further invitation to the White House!
Brzezinski clearly understood the personal implications of his downer of a diagnosis: "there goes any further invitation to the White House!" The panel all enjoyed a good chuckle, but could anything be much worse for PBO than to be seen as the reincarnation of Jimmy Carter?
Historical Note: Here's more on the Malaise Speech itself. Interestingly, although Carter adviser Pat Caddell used "malaise" in his notes for the speech, Carter himself never actually employed the word, speaking instead of a "crisis of the spirit in our country."
No Goneril, She: Good daughter that she is, Mika tried to put the best face on father's words. As Zbig lamented the end of his White House invitations, Mika twice pointed out that he had said "yet." In other words, it's not that pops had painted the president an irredeemable failure. It's just that PBO hasn't come up with a solution to the malaise "yet."