Dreams die hard. Illusions die harder.
Politically speaking, American politics is having what I would call a “timber” moment.
The lumberjacks have been sawing away at the majestic tree for what seems to be hours. They have finally reached the point where the tree is losing its equipoise and is beginning its descent to earth. As the slow-motion fall begins, the lumberjacks yell: “Timber,” to warn everyone to get out of the area.
We are now watching one of the greatest political illusions of our time, the presidency of Barack Obama, begin its descent to earth.
Some Democrats, among them Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell seem never to have been fooled by Obama. Others have been wiping the fog from their eyes, the better to see that the candidate in whom they invested their hope and dreams has turned out to be a grand illusion.
Lincoln Mitchell of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University still maintains a glimmer of hope. Yet, even he does not recognize Obama any more. Hope and change, he writes, have become timidity and whining. Link here.
The news analysis from Obama’s grand tour of Asia has been devastating. If Obama was thinking that he could compensate for the Democratic electoral debacle by pretending to be a world statesman, his trip seems merely to have shown that he is more pretense than substance. World leaders have taken his measure and do not respect him. Link here.
See the reports from ABC News and CBS News.
The public good notwithstanding, politicians are in the business of winning elections. If their leader leads them to ignominious defeat, then they are going to start working to replace him.
It begins with the nay-saying, as the party panjandrums disassociate themselves from their leader. It is not an accident that Joe Scarborough reported having been told by leading Democrats in the Senate that Barack Obama “has no idea what he is doing.” Link here.
Since the description points to people who are easily identified, you can feel confident that Scarborough received permission to reveal the information.
If you watch through the segment from Scarborough’s program you will see that Mike Barnicle admits to having heard the same thing from the same leaders.
These leaders are, dare I say, worried for the future of an Obama-led Democratic party. If they count among the two dozen Democratic senators who will be running for re-election in 2012, they are worried for their own political future.
And yet, they are facing an extremely difficult problem. If Obama is defeated in a primary, then his base supporters in the African-American community will likely not come out to vote for another Democrat.
And no Democrat can win a national election without the participation of the African-American community.
And if it appears that Obama is forced out by a cabal of Democrats, the African-American community will also feel the sting of betrayal.
The only real solution, as Schoen and Caddell explained in the Washington Post yesterday, would be for Obama to decide not to run again. Link here.
But, how can you convince Obama not to run again while at the same time convincing his most ardent supporters to remain loyal to the Democratic party.
Schoen and Caddell have found an excellent rhetorical ploy. They are telling Obama that the road to Mount Rushmore leads through his refusal to run for a second term. As a one-term president, Obama can be one of the greatest of presidents.
The mind boggles at the amount of vanity you need to believe something like that. Anyway, Schoen and Caddell have made their first attempt to get Obama out of the way without destroying the party. Neat trick if you can accomplish it.
Speaking for centrist Democrats, they have just yelled: Timber!
Is there another possible rhetorical ploy here? If they ask me-- they haven’t-- I will recommend that they tell Obama not to run for re-election because the job is beneath him.