Not so long after castigating Senator McCain for saying that the fundamentals of the economy were okay and Governor Palin for trying to talk to the people, past the press-- Obama encouraged everyone to focus on the sound fundamentals of the economy and decided to talk to the people and past the press, by going on Leno.
But then of course originality had never been Obama's strong point. With catchy slogans and book titles raided from everyone from Jeremiah Wright to Alice Walker, and a stylized portrait stolen from an AP photograph, Obama stumbled first to fame and then to power. Two months in and it's painfully obvious even to the press that Obama is a failure.
The double standard that kept him going this long required an endless propaganda loop and infinite second chances. It demanded that the public think the best of Obama and the worst of his opponents. So when Obama talked about visiting 57 states, it was written off as a meaningless gaffe, but when Palin talked about seeing Russia from Alaska, it was transformed into an ongoing taunt.
And now thanks to the wonders of the teleprompter and carefully screened questions from the press, we have a man in the White House who might be more incompetent than he is corrupt, or more corrupt than he is incompetent. With the economy stumbling further, stock in incompetence is rising, even while no other stock is.
There's no question about it, the paint is flaking, the antenna is bent and the wheels are coming off. To increasing numbers of Americans who did vote him, Obama is a nice guy who's completely out of his depth. A year in, the assessment is likely to be far worse.
Obama's national socialist agenda of bailouts and nationalization funded by deficit spending have produced a strong public backlash. And Obama and fellow Senate Democrats like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who were heavily in bed with the same industries they were supposed to be watching over, are making a public show of outrage. Dodd and Obama, respectively the number 1 and number 2 recipients of contributions from AIG, are busy pretending to be outraged by AIG's bonuses. Channeling Casablanca's Captain Renault, the epitome of civic hypocrisy, they proclaim, "We are shocked that there are bonuses being handed out here." As if Dodd's own amendment didn't specifically exempt executive bonuses, and as if Obama didn't sign a bill with that amendment in it.
Once again corruption and incompetence go at it, and corruption wins, followed by an incompetent coverup. But the public doesn't care about the coverup, or about the crime, so long as the people they elect solve the crisis they elected them to solve.
The media's scaremongering helped topple the Wall Street house of cards, and expose the corruption that Democrats themselves had promoted, from sub prime mortgages to pyramid schemes by their own major contributors. The media didn't stop spinning though until Obama, who had been closely tied to sub prime mortgages and was involved in a major real estate scandal that would ultimately help topple Governor Blagojevich, was in the White House.
But now Obama is in the White House and after passing a major stimulus package heavy on the pork that did nothing for the economy. After touting Caterpillar as an example of a company that would hire again, only to have Caterpillar turn around and fire over 2000 employees. After his own tax hikes are causing companies to flee the US and after his bailouts have elicited public outrage, Obama is still spinning frantically.
The Two Minute Hate campaign targeted first at Limbaugh, then at Wall Street commentators who questioned his tactics, and finally the Republican party as a whole-- crashed and burned despite media enthusiasm. The public as it turned out didn't care about Rush Limbaugh, and were not prepared to blame him for Obama's failures. Aside from the core of hard left wing activists, the American people were not interested in playing Obama's blame game. They just wanted results.
Heading to Leno to promote his economic plan, something no sitting President had ever done, Obama was once again falling back on his same old "like me, believe in me" spiel that had gotten him this far. But if a pity vote had helped get him elected, too many Americans have no pity to spare for the man whose wife boasts that the great thing about living in the White House is that when something breaks, right away it's replaced. Not when they're working two jobs to make ends meet.
Obama's economic plans are a failure. He did as his advisers advised, he seized the crisis, and the resulting pigfest at the mud pit revolted even many of his own supporters. Meanwhile more quietly, he was a failure abroad.
Brown's trip was a failure and an insult, whether calculated or not calculated. Europeans who had formerly been hopeful about Obama's victory, were turning cynical even in an article in the pages of the Obama boosting Time Magazine. Tariff wars are suddenly a possibility, with Mexico first in line. Meanwhile Russia was laughing at the inability of America's entire State Department to spell even one Russian word correctly-- even as Russia was pushing to create bases in the Western Hemisphere.
In the Middle East things were even worse. While Obama and his trolls were busy snubbing Israel, they also managed to snub virtually every American ally in the Muslim world. Amir Taheri lays out the disaster that Obama and his people have touched off better than anyone else could.
Notably, President Obama did not respond to greeting messages from America's Mideast allies until weeks after he'd entered the White House. The Iraqi leadership had to wait three weeks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai waited 40 days. Leaders of traditional allies such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia didn't wait as long - but got only protocol calls devoid of political content.
Obama's emissaries to the region have made it clear that the new administration is keener on cultivating its foes than courting its friends.
Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, spoke of his desire to engage the Taliban but cited "scheduling problems" in not meeting America's friends among Afghan and Pakistani elites. In Kabul, he made it all but clear that the new administration sees the Karzai presidency as part of the "Bush legacy." In Pakistan, he sent signals that Washington is not keen on supporting President Asif Ali Zardari's government.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora only a photo-op handshake during a conference on Gaza held in Egypt. Siniora, whose coalition government faces a crucial election in June, had hoped for a "convincing show of American support." Instead, he was cold-shouldered.
Concern that the US may be abandoning its allies has led to a number of panic moves. Last week, Saudi Arabia hosted a four-nation summit of Arab leaders that welcomed Syria back as a major player in regional politics. In exchange, the Syrians obtained a "right of observation" in Lebanon that they'll use to influence the outcome of that country's coming election.
In Iraq, concern about US retreat has divided the Kurds, Washington's strongest allies in that country. Massoud Barzani is trying to forge an alliance with Turkey to counterbalance Iran in the post-American era. Jalal Talabani (the other chief Kurdish leader) argues that, once the Americans leave, only Iran could protect the new Iraq against revenge-seeking Sunni Arab powers. Even Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, always suspicious of Tehran's intentions in Iraq, feels obliged to placate the mullahs by offering their protégé, Muqtada al-Sadr, a share of power.
In Pakistan, Zardari's opponents, convinced that the US no longer backs him, have launched a series of nationwide protests. Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, under whose rule the Taliban conquered most of Afghanistan, is trying to stage a comeback by branding Zardari as "an American tool installed by Bush and abandoned by Obama."
Turkey, meanwhile, fears that Obama may strike a "grand bargain" with the mullahs, acknowledging Iran as the region's principal power. That would leave Turkey in the lurch - unable to join the European Union and marginalized in the Mideast. Those fears prompted Turkey's President Abdullah Gul to find an excuse to visit Tehran - where he became the first Turkish president ever to meet Iranian "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei.
Thanks to the perception that the United States is in retreat while the Islamic Republic is rising, Tehran in recent weeks has played host to a dozen presidents and prime ministers from Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. In every case, the idea is to make a deal with the Iranians before Obama makes a deal with them.
If you want it all boiled down, Obama has managed to do more damage to foreign policy in barely two months, than Bush had in 8 years. Obama's "Eyes Only for Iran" foreign policy has raised Iran's stature and power tenfold. Power Iran will use against the United States, even as we will find ourselves without any allies left.
Corruption or radical anti-americanism, the diagnosis may differ, but the end result is the same. Week after week, the Messiah has turned in one failure after another. Unable to even assemble a full cabinet, with nominee after nominee falling away due to tax problems, his failure is swiftly becoming a fact.
While Republicans may be taking an outward beating, partly due to incompetent leadership from Michael Steele, we only need to hang on through the storm. A storm that will have Obama in the center of it regardless of what he does. Now the first major anti-war rally is being planned and it specifically targets Obama, while we can expect the press to ignore it, it will begin hardening the break with many of Obama's old allies, even as he's running low on new ones.
Obama has a Democratic congress, which means he also has all the rope he needs to hang himself with. The backlash against his policies is already beginning, and the Messiah looks more hapless than ever as the greasepaint and sweat begins to run down his face.
There's nothing to be done about it. The Messiah is melting.