Thursday, October 28, 2010
Dana Milbank provides his post-game analysis of President Obama's appearance on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show.
The Daily Show host was giving Obama a tough time about hiring the conventional and Clintonian Larry Summers as his top economic advisor.President Obama smiled and didn't seem to mind the use of such a familiar term (it is in the third video segment at the Daily Show link above, at about 1:45), but it hard to imagine a previous president of either party sitting there and being called "dude." Maybe I am too old school, or just too old, but even though I disagree with many things the Obama administration has done and is doing (and we all express that here on the blog), I would hope that I would have enough respect for the office to refer to him, or any other sitting POTUS, as "Mr. President" in person. Is it me, or does it seem as though the office itself has become much less revered since the early 1990s? I just can't visualize President Reagan sitting next to a TV host and being called "dude." Maybe he would glare back, or maybe he would smile a bit and retort, "I do have a ranch in California, but it's not a dude ranch."
"In fairness," the president replied defensively, "Larry Summers did a heckuva job."
"You don't want to use that phrase, dude," Stewart recommended with a laugh.
Dude. The indignity of a comedy show host calling the commander in chief "dude" pretty well captured the moment for Obama. He was making this first-ever appearance by a president on the Daily Show as part of a long-shot effort to rekindle the spirit of '08. In the Daily Show, Obama had a friendly host and an even friendlier crowd.
But, as in his MTV appearance a couple of weeks ago, Obama didn't try to connect with his youthful audience. He was serious and defensive, pointing a finger at his host several times as he quarreled with the premise of a question.
Milbank's review fleshes out the dissatisfaction of the Democratic base, which seems to have more of a tendency to make the perfect -- from that perspective -- the enemy of the good, as compared to the Republican base. It is odd that an over-abundance of idealism and resulting disillusionment could be a contributing factor to the loss of the House for Democrats, but I think Jimmy Cliff puts it best.
But Brent, give Senator Boxer a break. She wants the children to work so hard to help her keep her title. And don't you think kids need to do more volunteer work for extra credit in school?
Concerning Summers: As I recall, the economic actions the President took didn't exactly conform to many of Larry Summers' pre-administration positions. (On the other hand, the financial position of Harvard deteriorated while Summers was there.)
Maybe Obama's team pressures economic advisors to do things they normally wouldn't do. Like Austan Goolsby's unemployment video, which presents data in a way he would never dare (I hope) present data to his economics students in class.
Interesting post about the respect for the Office.
The last point about 'dissatisfaction of the Dem Base' is well put also.
However, I feel Democrats are just upset that Obama isn't successful and super popular. They may act like they are disappointed he isn't left enough. But, I don't have the impression whenever I daily interact with Democrat Devotees, that the issue is a matter of policy - finding something they would really prefer Obama to be doing differently. They just grow uneasy seeing - feeling others grow fearful, disgusted, upset, troubled, etc. I am not even certain some of them know why the vast Majority of Americans are furious and reject the Democrats.
Perhaps they do sense Obama's offering in the Office vs. the Campaign trail has revealed all that crap about Bush and the Republicans (ie: warmongers) was a bunch of pure political garbage.
But the principle motivation for many die-hard Democrats I encounter, often in the NYC arena, is their hatred-bigotry for the deemed opposition. They mostly cultivated an idea they were the 'good side' and the others were bad, labeling them fascist, etc. I don't have a real sense, they grasp why Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Change is such a failure, or that they really care. They just are upset with the idea the Democrats will lose.
I do contemplate that my arena could be a poor sampling, and that other former Democrats around the Country who are not on the DNC Machine payroll, in Unions, etc., do get it. There has to be some Partisan Democrats who have been reminded these terrible policies always end up making a mess - visions of CARTER are overt.
Either way, Democrats like Milbank see their credibility continue to sink further into negative digits. They are now as laughable as the idea Democrats consider the Daily Show as a major political - news force.
However, one lingering concern overrides all others, as 9-11 was so moving in my experience. I know the 1990's were similar, and the Democrats were strongly rebuked in 94 for a disastrous offering when the Clintons entered the Office. I remember it well. Yet, during this time, a dangerous threat was being ignored - enabled by the Democratic Partisans in power in the Executive - as well as in the MEDIA to help that Administration, even after the first bombing of the WTC in 93. As much as we worry over the economy, deficits, Obamacare, etc., something suggests - just like the Clinton fiasco in treating terrorism as a mere law enforcement issue - the powers that be are again asleep at the wheel with a larger more dangerous problem. After seeing how utterly incompetent the Obama Administration is, how could anyone not be concerned?
Iran seems to be ticking away, gains in Iraq and Afghanistan actually look as if they may be ceded away...
Something suggests, something larger is on the horizon possibly, which will really frame the regret over allowing the Democratic Party to regain the power in 2006 and 2008. I hope these feelings are mistaken.