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Mr. Obama's Handy Bogeymen
In a recent interview with the New Yorker magazine President Obama did what he often does when his approval ratings drop: He went after Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
Here’s what he said:
“… there is a Republican base of voters for whom compromise with me is a betrayal. And that -- more than anything, I think -- has been the challenge that I’ve needed to overcome.
“Another way of putting it, I guess, is that the issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems and is pretty practical, and that, actually, a lot of the things that we’ve put in place worked better than people might think.
“And as long as there’s that gap between perceptions of me within the average Republican primary voter and the reality, it’s hard for folks like John Boehner to move too far in my direction.”
What he left out, of course, is that he has a pretty crummy history of reaching out to the other side himself. This is the president who has been fond of telling his opponents, Hey, I won.”
But he is right about some things – to a point. Some Tea Party Republicans in the House would never agree with the president – about anything … ever. And compromise with the president would be seen as “betrayal.”
So let’s give Mr. Obama that. And let’s acknowledge there are some in conservative media who wouldn’t give Mr. Obama credit if he came up with a cure for cancer.
So he’s not simply making stuff up.
But let’s go back to the beginning, after he won his party’s nomination for president in 2008.
Barack Obama, you may recall delivered his acceptance speech standing in front of Greek columns, presumably to show off his supposed greatness. Greek columns! What politician outside of Athens does that?
Then he told us that his presidency would slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. That’s not a lift from Saturday Night Live. He really said that.
And in his last presidential campaign, his aides reportedly referred to him as the Black Jesus.
What a guy! A regular messiah! Yet we’re supposed to believe this great man with the talent and charisma to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet, is the hapless victim of a cable news channel and a radio talk show host? The most powerful man on the planet in possession of the biggest megaphone is being turned in to a caricature by Fox and Limbaugh?
A few facts:
Fox News didn’t roll out ObamaCare.
Rush didn’t create the mess in Benghazi.
Neither Fox nor Rush told the IRS to target conservative organizations.
The Obama administration is responsible for all of that. Fox didn’t turn the president into a caricature of the real Barack Obama. Barack Obama did.
The president has gone to war with Fox at least a half dozen times since he took office. He’ll do it again before he leaves. Every politician needs a boogeyman to explain away his failures. And in Barack Obama we have a politician who is very good at looking out at the crowd and campaigning, but not very good at looking in, at his weaknesses.
The fault is rarely in our stars – even if their names are Limbaugh and Hannity – but more often than not, in ourselves, Mr. President.