Maureen Dowd

Leaves His Socks On The Floor

An old friend on mine just got remarried--for the third time. She is drunk with love, text messaging "I miss you" when her new husband is absent for a mere matter of hours. Its terribly amusing, but also a little sad--I remember this same behavior with both ex-husbands. One day she'll walk into the bedroom and see his socks lying on the floor where he dropped them, and the bliss will be replaced with a flash of anger and resentment. The honeymoon will be over.

Maureen Dowd found some socks on the floor.

In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget. ...

Blame it on the stars, Rahm, or on old business. But as Shakespeare wrote in “Lear”: “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits of our own behavior — we make guilty of our own disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

Maureen is not the only one seeing the full bloom of love wilting under the weight of day to day living with the Obama administration. Jennifer Rubin, in a Pajamas Media post, lists the shocked and appalled Chris Buckley, David Brooks, David Gergen and Marty Peretz, as disappointed former lovers.

Some will no doubt chortle over the comeuppance of these media know-it-alls, but in some ways they are ahead of many conservatives who keep insisting that Barry is some evil genius with a plan. More on that later...

Its fairly clear to me that Barack Obama thinks there is one set of rules for George W. Bush, and another set of rules for him. Perhaps its because the mommy-media always picked up his socks for him, but whatever the reason, he seems to think that he can forever point the finger at his predecessor or Congress and safely maintain an Olympian detachment and a contrived centrist image. What was generally perceived as a beginner's mistake--the delegation of the stimulus bill creation to Nancy Pelosi, is more recently being recognized as a pattern--let Nancy do the left-wing dirty work to keep Barry's hands clean.

Yet as these pundit complaints reveal, those watching closely are not fooled, and those not watching closely will inevitably ignore such subtle distinctions and lay the blame or credit squarely at the feet of the administration. The Democrat brain trust seem to think that Obama has some sort of Reaganesque teflon suit he can wear to deflect criticism, and blissfully unaware that the teflon was a result of popular policies that actually succeeded. Reagan's landslide reelection could best be summarized by a question he asked in 1980 and then again in 1984--"...are you better off than you were four years ago?" Having done the big things right, the people weren't much interested in the day-to-day ticky-tack.

right-wrong%20track%20historical%20trend.pngClick to enlarge-->

With a no confidence vote by the financial markets, the moral hazard of Obama's mortgage rescue plan, increasing unemployment and generally no light at the end of the tunnel, its a stretch to claim that Obama is doing the "big things right". Obama's wrong track numbers are in the red zone, and only an "improvement" relative to the spike in October during the Lehman Bros. debacle. aggregates the polls for an average wrong track number of 59%.

Historically wrong track numbers this high have always signaled an election loss for the incumbent during an election year. Clinton had numbers like this in 1994 when Republicans won 54 seats in the House,12 governorships and 20 state legislatures. It also marked the year that Clinton hired Dick Morris and decided to govern with Republicans instead of minority Democrats.

Currently the administration has some cover as there is still a substantial number of wrong-trackers who blame the Bush administration for the current woes, but both time and the growing disillusionment of the politically informed is going to erode that bulwark, and faster than anyone might expect. Truman's famous "The buck stops here" was less an acceptance of responsibility than a simple acknowledgment of the realities of the presidency.

There is no public consensus accepting the Democrat rhetoric that low taxes caused the current economic nightmare, which is simply counter-intuitive to most people. By contrast, the Republican narrative about how Dodd and Franks forced the banks into making bad loans is entirely plausible. Democrats and Republicans might have differing tolerance for corruption, but both have no trouble acknowledging its existence.

Sky-is-falling conservatives need to recognize the relative contributions of various environmental factors in determining the future political landscape. Only eight years after Nixon resigned, and party affiliation dropped to its nadir, Reagan entered the oval office with a Republican majority in the Senate. 2010 and 2012 could be significantly more impressive than that.

The Democrats have laid the groundwork for an ignominious defeat, but the scale of that defeat is entirely in the hands of conservatives who have an enormous amount of work to do to articulate a modern political program that borrows the best from the past, trashes the worst, and adapts to current issues like the environment, immigration, corporate responsibility, etc...

Yesterday I had lunch with some friends who recounted to me the story of an old neighbor who had built a successful business, sold it for 15 million and then preceded to lose it all--to the point that he was living with his adult children. Sounds terrible doesn't it, but this is American, land of the second acts. The same man ran across an interesting piece of exercise equipment at a trade show, and somehow managed to raise a quarter million to buy the rights. That piece of exercise equipment because the Healthrider--a company he sold for 100 million.

Failure always hurts, but its often a remarkable opportunity to move forward unshackled of the necessity to protect what you have. Republicans don't have to play defense anymore and can build a better future from the lessons learned from the past.


The Backlash is FINALLY Beginning!!!

First Christopher Buckley...

...then David Brooks...

...then Jim Cramer...

...then his approval rating went under 60% in the RCP average...

...then Maureen Dowd...

...then Evan Bayh...

...then Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson.

All this in the last three days.

Looks like the Obama backlash is FINALLY upon us.

What the hell took you people so long?

Abusing Sarah Palin With Metaphor

Twice this week I've warned the Democratic Party about the dangers of overplaying the Sarah Palin attack strategy. I even invoked a sports metaphor, the very same (and rather lame) metaphor I invoked on the eve of Democratic Party wins during the election in 2006. I warned them of the "offsides trap," a defensive play in soccer (or European football). Not that anyone is listening, but I at least try to sound the alarm.

I find it interesting that tonight on the "The Factor" with Bill O'Reilly, Dick Morris used a metaphor of similar import drawn from military history: he warned Democrats that Sarah Palin could end up being the Democratic Party's Battle of Kursk; that battle was a trap for Germany, a devastating trap used to great success by the Soviet Union in World War 2. I like Morris' metaphor only to a point, as it is hard for me to even remotely hint at sympathy towards the repugnant Hitler and his evil designs (or Stalin's, for that matter).

Such warnings, of course, are aimed at Democrats and all those in the media who support the Democratic Party. They are intended to draw a line in the sand (or the pitch); such warnings say that to cross that line could be perilous. A quick survey of the media largely confirms my suspicion that Democrats have already crossed that line with a series of dopey metaphors (in bold):

  • The ever-imitable New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd opined Sunday that Sarah Palin is essentially a real-life "chic flick." In all fairness to Ms. Dowd, who is to literature what phone sex is to oratory, a direct quote should be offered: Sarah Palin's story is a "hokey chick flick [that] came out on the trail, a Cinderella story so preposterous it’s hard to believe it’s not premiering on Lifetime." (My wife sums up perfectly what is wrong with Ms. Dowd: Ms. Dowd's words are born solely of envy.)
  • Bill Maher referred to Sarah Palin as John McCain's stewardess. (That's some pretty heady humor there, Bill. Great writing.)
  • Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn believes "that a woman with five children, including one with special needs, and a daughter who is a 17-year-old child who is pregnant and about to have a baby, probably has got to rethink her priorities. It seems to me that there is a tipping point, and I think that she's crossed the tipping point." (Ms. Quinn might want to quietly meditate on that tipping point idea for a while.)
  • Democratic strategist and linguist/philosopher George Lakoff said of the Sarah Palin story, "It's conceivable a 17-year-old girl just screwed the GOP." (Of course, it should behoove any decent linguist to properly ask himself what he means by "conceivable" and "screwed." Nice metaphors, Mr. Lakoff. I can see why you are a Democratic strategist.)

What is just thrilling good fun is to see whether Gov. Palin can sufficiently tap into her own poetic muse to find the apt metaphor that perfectly fits the expectations of the American psyche, at least a majority share of it, and yet also gives Mr. Lakoff fits of apoplexy (figuratively speaking, of course). Tonight, right now in fact, is her time to be particularly inspired. That is if she's not too tired from breast-feeding. (Sorry. See how easy it is to be a buffoon?)

(Addendum: It seems quite clear that Gov. Palin found her muse and her metaphor.)

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