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23 August 2010

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R Whitman

This would sure put Hillary Clinton back in play. What a 2012 election that would be: Clinton vs Palin.

PirateLaddie

No doubt about it, the 2008 presidency was a poisoned chalice. More than a few expected the GOP to cede the crown (of thorns) to the Democrats in order to avoid the backed-up sewer lines BushCo. was bequeathing to the country. That scenario certainly explains the McCain candidacy and faux campaign.
With the GOP in the hands of nutcases and the Democrats in full-bore denial, it's hard to foresee any good options.

J

Colonel,

The President for all intents and purposes lives on a mini-Military installation called the White House. He/She doesn't need to venture off post, as the American working citizenry provide the President and his/her family with all the perks one could possibly imagine.

We need to get rid of the Presidential air and helo fleets, the Presidential Secret Service limos and support vehicles, cut the Presidential Secret Service details by 3/4s, sell Camp David and other Presidential lands.

The President doesn't need to venture off White House grounds, as all meetings with foreign leaders can take place either on White House grounds or through secure tele-conferencing. The term of the Presidency is a 'vacation in-itself', there is no need to 'venture off post'.

Margaret Steinfels

In reading Jonathan Alter's book about Obama's first year, I have been reminded about the multiple cross-currents he's had to sail through. Given those, he has done better than most, and I am left with the sense that he's the most serious presidents we've had in a long time--certainly including his two predecessors. When reading what he's been up against (perhaps including his own style of governing), I've wondered if he'll decide not to run in 2012. Seems far-fetched I know, but two things: 1. he's a man who knows his limits and the limits of our political culture; 2. Michelle Obama cannot be a big fan of that political culture, or perhaps her role as first lady.

toto

people are making fools of themselves in an orgy of nativism and a new anti-Semitism aimed at Muslims

To be fair, he did address that one. All he got for his troubles was a surge of blathering from the less articulate segments of the commentariat (and of the opinion).

Perhaps he's just being disillusioned with the state of the political landscape. Though that's a bit unlikely for a man whose training in politics took place in Chicago.

ex-PFC Chuck

I don't buy it. All of the centrist policy triangulation the administration is doing, all the reaching out of the hand seeking bipartisanship only to have it bitten time and again (it reminds me of Charlie Brown hoping that this time Lucy won't pull the football away) smell of governance according to a plan in which his reelection prospects are the paramount consideration. I think it's a flawed plan, because it assumes the base that elected him has nowhere else to go. That may be true, but he forgets that they do have a choice not to go anywhere on election day. For the people who worked their butts off week after week knocking on doors and phoning to get out the vote in 2008, the audacity of hope has become a vain hope for audacity.

JohnH

One mystery is why Obama ignores his most natural base of supporters--the Left.

Another is his refusal to enlist the American people to support his programs. Could anyone ever imagine a gifted orator taking possession of the world's biggest Bully Pulpit...and then deciding not to use it?

Bush was careful to regularly touch his support base. He would sprinkle carefully chosen code words into his speeches to convince religious fanatics that he was one of them. But Obama doesn't do any of that.

And Bush often went out on the stump to promote his policies. But Obama doesn't even bother.

It's almost as if Obama is glad to be the President, but doesn't care if he's effective of not. He already got what he wanted most.

lina

Wait until after the Nov. mid-term elections to make any prognosis for 2012. If the Republicans take back the House, they will have to start saying what they're FOR.

Norbert N, Salamon

My personal take on this issue is based on my belief that Mr. Obama is a true USA patriot, on one hand, and a person concerned with the general well being of USA citizens [based on his career in Chicago] on the other hand.

I believe that Mr. Obama will run again, if he preceives that he can contribute to the interest of USA in general, especially if Mr. Obama perceives that the alternative, GOP deconstructionism of the America Ideal is the only other choice for the electorate.

I am sure that Mr. Obama has been surprised by the depth and width of the problems facing the USA since he was installed as President. Often his domestic policy was aimed to better the life of the commons, though perceived to be helping the moneyed elite [bailing out TBTF banks vs. politically unaccptable step to nationalise them - all in an effort to keep a CREDIT BASED ECONMY FROM COLAPSE].

Similarly with respect to health care and or financial re-regulation Mr Obama aimed for higher plateau than achived, but politically such sterps were forbidden by the GOP and BLUE DOG DEMS who are too far beholden to financial and heralth inustries [an oxymoron] money bags.

The failure of USA domestic and foreign policies can be analyzed to a large extent by following the money accrueing to the various politicians in Administration [e;g Mineral branch and BP] and various members of Congress. This system need very a strong reform, lest the country totally colapses both econmically and politically, especuially in view of the recent INSANE judgement by the Supremes - establishing corruption as the modus operandi of USA politics.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

The elites live in a gated cloud, flying ocean to ocean on Gulfstreams. The Obamas have certainly entered this Global Aristocracy.

The basic American problem is that the elites are hell bent on preserving their Bush era tax cuts and screw the rest of America; i.e. today’s Paul Krugman op-ed Now That's Rich.

There can be no more unproductive use of borrowed money than enriching the wealthiest portfolios or blowing up bombs over AfPak.

Pitchforks, and cassette tapes are old fashion, but smart phones can be as effective in directing the flash mobs against an entrenched aristocracy. Tea Baggers and Anti-globalization Movement are just preludes as male unemployment rises in the USA.

Nancy K

It may very well be that some of those who voted for Obama will be discouraged and not vote at all. I will definitly not be one of those people. I wish President Obama would be more foreful and quit trying to work with the Republicans. I would like to see us out of Iraq and Afganistan. I would really like to see the economy improve.
I know for a fact however that there is not a Republican out there that I could vote for. The teabaggers are totally insane and the rest of the Republican pack seem to be all over themselves to out conservative each other. The whole group make me sick.

meffie

As Obama seems increasingly unfocused, I have been wondering if he would get a primary challenge from within the party, a la Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter in 1980. Hillary seems the only likely candidate, but wouldn't she have to find a reason to resign as Sec. of State first?

Robert C.

"The President doesn't need to venture off White House grounds, as all meetings with foreign leaders can take place either on White House grounds or through secure tele-conferencing. The term of the Presidency is a 'vacation in-itself', there is no need to 'venture off post'."

I disagree. To keep Presidents and thier families couped up in one place what be incredibly unhealthy emotionally and intellectually. They need to get OTB. Isn't that always the criticism? Plus...it is not always a vacation...the decisions that have to be made are mind-boggling.

RC

walrus

Col. Lang:

"Is this a time when a man who wants to be re-elected would let his wife spend several hundred thousand dollars of public money on a vacation trip overseas to a resort area that caters to the Euro-trash set. Martha's Vinyard? Why is the Gulf Coast not a place where the Obamas could spend more than a few "symbolic" days?"

The answer to your question is obvious and I provide it at the end of this post.

To decide if Obama is likely to run again, I think you have to understand what Obama is up against and then try and understand his personality and drives. My sense of things is that Obama is being set up to lose in 2012, and that is roughly in line with his own wishes.

There are dark forces in this world, and in each and every country, as I am sure Col. Lang will confirm. These are not "The Beltway" or "The village" or "Mexican drug Cartels" or so on. They are one further remove from that and at least Two removes from the commentariate.

They operate by shaping the narrative or "the script" which, as closely as I can describe it, is the filter through which public perceptions become present day "reality" for most people.

A discussion of exactly how this is done is unnecessary for this audience. We have all seen it, perhaps even been part of it at various times.

My sense of the narrative, and the reasons behind it are roughly as follows; American living standards have to drop in order to accommodate the growing material needs of the Chinese and Indian middle classes. Simple economics will ensure it happens. No conspiracy is required.

As living standards drop, the widening gap between the ultra rich and the have nots is going to create fear in the rich and anger among the have nots. The gap is becoming too wide to simply paper over with platitudes about the American dream and property rights. Better solutions are required.

The solutions chosen are hyper patriotism and demonisation of suitable scapegoats. Further solutions already prepared are a legal basis for repression, enhanced domestic intelligence gathering capabilities and militarisation of law enforcement.

The narrative has Obama or Hillary losing in 2012 followed by the election of a hyper patriot, my guess being Petreaus. This narrative plays to patriotism and covert racism (This is what happens to our country when we allow a black man to govern.) After that happens, expect Orwell.

Will Obama run? He has a very strong narcissistic streak with little or no empathy with the "ordinary people" whom he secretly despises. That focused him on getting in the White House, not on what he was going to do once he got there. That is what gave him permission to throw the netroots (including me) under the bus once he was elected. He adores the perks of office. Against this must be balanced Obamas knowledge that the good times are permanently over for the American people and that dark forces oppose an measures that ameliorate the peoples plight, and Obama is not a fighter.

The question for Obama is whether there is a place for him on the international stage that would satisfy his narcissistic drives if he doesn't run. If that can be found, then he won't run.


Why doesn't Obama use Camp David? Simple. He needs an audience. The richer and more exclusive the better. Solitude and privacy is not a narcissists thing.

Michelle is a narcissist too.

J

RC,

Today's working Americans don't get to take vacations. Working Americans don't get to live in a lap of luxury (the White House) with servants and all kinds of meals and food at their beckon call. Working Americans don't get to jaunt hither and yon, they have to work for a living supporting their families and the paychecks of D.C. politicians and Presidents.

Life is full of decisions, those who run for the Office of the President need to realize it and work with it. Do you know how many 'foreclosed mortgages' that Mrs. President's vacation jaunt to Spain and back would have paid for?

The President is a 'servant' of the people, not the other way around. Most who run for President are ego-filled narcissistic individuals who crave personal attention and adoration. They can be adored from behind the White House windows, not outside them.

Far too many Presidents spend their whole terms acting like the whole affair is a vacation. A few like JFK realized that there was work to be done in the Oval office.

I respectfully disagree with your disagree.

Adam L Silverman

Sir: I think there are two overlapping issues here. The first is, as we've discussed offline, that the Obama Administration can not seem to do effective messaging. There information operations are better than most Democrats, but are absolutely horrible in comparison to the Republicans in the House and Senate, let alone the host of Republican, conservative, libertarian, and right of center organizations, institutes, and interest groups. The latter play the media and Americans like fiddles; they're very good at it, reap the rewards, and deserve to be recognized as excellent master messagers. By comparison the Obama Administration folks are beginning journeymen and the rest of the Democrats, and many left of center, liberal, and/or progressive groups not much better and often much worse. Soundbited and appeals to emotion carry the debate in the US- it's sad, but unfortunately true. 2) I think the second part of President Obama's messaging and presentation issue has to do with socialization to and from ethnicity. I've noticed that every successful, professional African American man I've ever interacted with is overwhelmingly reserved in public, as well as often in less formal settings. I was once told that this was because African American males have to present themselves as more professional and more reserved to be able to function in an American society that for all the progress we've made dealing with these issues still often defaults to stereotypes. In this context President Obama is dinger for being too contained about things that require emotion, yet the few timed we've seen him show some emotion, rightly or wrongly, the focus winds up on the emotion. Essentially he's damned if he doesm damned if he doesn't. A lifetime of social cues have taught him to be self contained and non-threatening, and he is and then we all wonder why he seems above it all and out of touch.

Finally, you are correct that the optics look bad a lot of the time, but I think that goes back to the first point: the current Administration just doesn't do good IO.

Patrick Lang

walrus

You are a clever man and I am sure that you recognize rhetorical questions. pl

Medicine Man

While I can see how that Telegraph article could be attractive to folks who aren't big fans of Pres. Obama, I don't buy the article's premise at all. For starters, it is loaded with assumptions and shallow nit-picking. First of them is the familiar critique that Obama was too rigid and aloof. This is a pretty weak accusation in light of the outcome of the primaries. He ran a successful insurgent campaign against a strong, well-monied favorite and when the general election began in earnest he hadn't irreparably alienated either his opponent or her supporters. Maybe showing some blood lust and trying to "finish off" HRC faster in the primaries would have pleased the beltway punditry, but I don't see how it would have helped Obama in the general election.

The second assumption is that Obama only won the 2008 election because of fortunate (politically that is) circumstances. I think reasonable people can come to this conclusion. I don't think the Telegraph bothered to make a case for it though. They mentioned some mid-Sept 2008 poll numbers, blamed Obama for them, and declared the case closed; what a bunch of drivel.

The third, and most telling, assumption is that there will be a Republican successor to Obama in 2012 if the President decides not to run again. I think there is a two-word description for this entire line of thought--"wishful thinking".

John Howley

Vietnam Vet is closest to it, I think.

Being president means making decisions of the type mentioned by commenters here: about policy, about message, about whom to hire, about strategy, about whether to run again in 2012.

Inner-circle group think, the presidential bubble and the growing distance between the experience of the elite and that of ordinary Americans makes it harder and harder for any occupant of the WH to make good decisions. About anything.

Corporate profits have recovered nicely and unemployment is stuck at 10 percent. That's how our economy works now.

It's not primarily about individuals or conspiracies (though both are at work!). It's about the evolution of our social institutions.

Byron Raum

Mr Silverman,

You are stating is that the right-wing loons are more effective at communication, but you don't actually ask the question as to why decent men and women don't seem able to communicate effectively. What if the real reason is pretty simple: the majority of Americans are jerks?

These are depressing times.

B.R.

Medicine Man

That's quite a piece of fantasy there, Walrus.

A gentle reminder to Obama's detractors: there is a lot of open ground between "not the right man for the job" and "active conspirator in the demise of the Republic".

zanzibar

I don't necessarily buy into the Telegraph's contention that Obama will not contest the next Presidential election. It will all depend on the climate and the cast of opponents. To me there has been a disconnect between Obama's campaign rhetoric and insinuations relative to the "Clintonite DLC" type team that he has embraced in office. He squandered an enormous opportunity to usher in common sense policies and start the process of accountability in government as I believe the man on the street was ready to change the status quo of vested interests.


Walrus

Are you making a case for creeping fascism?

IMO, standards of living here will decline not because of competing material needs of the Chinese and Indians but because we have enjoyed an artificial living standard through the use of excessive leverage while shipping our economic base to the Asians.

Mark Logan

I do not agree wit the authors assessment of Obama. Not willing to get "down and dirty"? "When the going got tough" against Hillary he just conceded? I do not know what he is talking about, the fact is he had it won. Campaigning is is strong suit, and he excels at it. If there is one thing that can serve to feed his ego at this time it is his ability to play that game too.

What I suspect has happened is that he made the mistake of internalizing his own "propaganda", the part about he will make decisions without re-election in mind. There is no reason that high-minded notion has to extend beyond the executive decision making of his office to his decisions about how he handles his vacations and manages his imagery, but it appears that it has.

The man by my guestimation was elected to office about 10 years shy of the experience and accumulated political wisdom and gravitas he needed to do the best possible job. He is making a lot of mistakes, but I am not convinced, as yet, they are a reflection of a subliminal desire to fail. Looks like rookie mistakes to me. If he is lucky somebody in "the bubble" will point them out to him soon.

Norman Rogers

This man is not running to be the "next President" of anything.

He's running to be the next Bill Clinton. Being a two term President is quite lucrative, unless you are hounded out of office, as the more recent President Bush was.

If he loses or doesn't run, he's Jimmy Carter. Who wants to build houses for the poor and be called an anti-Semite? If he wins, he'll be a world-reknowned celebrity and a billionaire by his 65th birthday. It's that simple.

LeaNder

walrus, I am a bit surprised about your "dark forces" narrative too.

****************************
Dr. Silverman. I am not black and people perceive me as emotionless. So it could be a trait beyond racial markers.

But the more important question concerns the IO, or PR. I can't help but a brilliant essay by a fine man comes to mind.

Rovian Ways
http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2007/08/27/070827taco_talk_lemann

My question: Could it be that conservatives have less problems with Machiavellian techniques? Not only less problems in letting the baser instincts work for them, but also in shaping public opinion according to special interests?

My impression about the Bush government, and I didn't watch US politics as closely as that before, was that it's main tool was secrecy. Secrecy and manipulation of public opinion for their own aims.

It feels Obama has to fight well funded campaigns, what's his budget for IO? And what is the exact relation between Machiavellian techniques - shaping public opinion according to your own interests - and democracy? And how free to decide is he based on this scenario?

***************************

That said, I have to admit that from Friday to Sunday I manipulated an online poll of a US paper into a slightly more sober percentage of "No" votes. The question asked was:

Does Israel have the right to attack Iran if it develops nuclear weapons:

Yes
No
Not sure

Problem is, I do not feel like a manipulator, I feel I responded to a manipulating question.

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