The mistakes President Obama has made in recent months that have led to his plummeting poll numbers aren't his fault.
According to Time's Joe Klein, it's all being caused by -- and I quote! -- "the media's tendency to get overwrought about almost anything."
Yep. After withholding from the public material information about Obama last year that almost certainly would have doomed his candidacy, the press today are focusing too much attention on silly things like his: response to the Fort Hood massacre; not spending enough time on unemployment; accomplishing nothing in Asia, and; allowing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be tried in New York City.
As one reads Klein's Wednesday column, you get the feeling he dearly misses the good old days when anything Obama did or said was met with thunderous applause, and anything that could take the bloom off the rose was squelched:
As a fully licensed pundit, I have the authority to weigh in here ... but I demur. Oh, I could sling opinions about every one of the events cited above — some were unfortunate — but it would matter only if I could discern a pattern that illuminates Obama's presidency. The most obvious pattern, however, is the media's tendency to get overwrought about almost anything. Why, for example, is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall demolition so crucial that it requires a President's presence? Which recent U.S. President has gotten the Chinese to agree to anything big? (In fact, Obama has secured significant diplomatic cooperation from the Chinese on North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.) Was his deep bow indicative of anything other than his physical fitness? (My midsection, sadly, prevents the appearance of obsequiousness in such circumstances.)
Let not your heart be troubled, liberals, for it's all following a predictable pattern that will end up just fine:
Stepping back a bit, I do see a metapattern that extends over the 40 years since Richard Nixon's Southern strategy began the drift toward more ideological political parties: Democrats have tough first years in the presidency. Of the past seven Presidents, the two Bushes rank at the top in popularity after one year, while Obama and Bill Clinton rank at the bottom, with Jimmy Carter close by. There is a reason for that. Democrats come to office eager to govern the heck out of the country. They take on impossible issues, like budget-balancing and health care reform. They run into roadblocks — from their own unruly ranks as well as from Republicans. They get lost in the details. A tax cut is much easier to explain than a tax increase. A foreign policy based in bluster — railing against an "axis of evil" — is easier to sell than a foreign policy based in nuance. Of course, external events count a lot: the ratings of Bushes I and II were bolstered, respectively, by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the flattening of the World Trade Center. Reagan's rating — 53% and headed south — was dampened by a deepening recession.
Isn't that great? The problem Obama's having is that unlike Reagan and the Bushes, he's actually trying to accomplish something right out of the gate. Those three didn't do anything in their first year in office according to this self-proclaimed "fully licensed pundit."
Stuff like this makes you wonder how many boxtops you have to send in for such accreditation:
So it is way too early to make pronouncements on Obama's fate. One pattern that can be limned from the recent overseas controversies is that this President has a tendency to err in the direction of respect toward other countries. This is a witting reaction to the Bush Administration's tendency to diss our allies and insult — or invade — our enemies. It is a long game, which will yield results, or not, over time. After a first year spent demonstrating a new comity, Obama has gained the global credibility to get tough — on Iran, for example — in his second year.
Isn't that great? You see, all this bowing and America-bashing abroad which has produced absolutely no diplomatic gains for the President this year are going to pay off in the long run:
But the real evaluation of Obama's debut must wait for the results of the two biggest problems he's tackling: his decision on Afghanistan and the congressional attempt to pass health care reform. And even here, it will be difficult to render judgment immediately — as difficult as it was to judge Clinton's decision to spend his political capital on deficit reduction in his 1993 economic plan, a triumph that didn't become apparent for nearly five years.
Actually, the payoff for Clinton came after the Republicans took back Congress in 1994 and forced fiscal sanity and tax cuts on the former Arkansas governor who went kicking and screaming the whole way.
Like most of his liberal colleagues, Klein has totally forgotten these inconvenient truths.
That's not at all surprising, for he's been clueless for decades.