While I’m not proud of it, yesterday I stumbled onto Maureen Dowd’s column and saw that she is as upset about the perpetual Barack Obama golf game as anyone else.
True confession, up until that moment I hadn’t paid too much attention to Barack Obama’s endless golf game. I believed it because it fit my image of him so well (think Nero overlooking Rome going up in flames, practicing his swing rather than playing the fiddle). But, at the same time, it felt like a story that only conservatives could possibly find convincing. Liberals who love Obama would just assume such criticism was merely the result of conservative bias.
No, it seems Liberals are fed up too.
Of course, being Liberal, Dowd doesn’t attack the President outright. But she still hits her target:
First the president couldn’t work with Republicans because they were too obdurate. Then he tried to chase down reporters with subpoenas. Now he finds members of his own party an unnecessary distraction.
His circle keeps getting more inner. He golfs with aides and jocks, and he spent his one evening back in Washington from Martha’s Vineyard at a nearly five-hour dinner at the home of a nutritional adviser and former White House assistant chef, Sam Kass.
The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket.
The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.
Almost everything else — from an all-out push on gun control after the Newtown massacre to going to see firsthand the Hispanic children thronging at the border to using his special status to defuse racial tensions in Ferguson — just seems like too much trouble.
Personally, I’ve always thought Barack Obama always acted like he was running for the office of figurehead. When he had both the House and Senate he could seem like a force of nature.
But his speeches only had to convince a bare majority. Dowd’s own words contain the answer to her own puzzlement about the President’s detachment. Winning a bare majority in the country or in the electoral college is different than winning a majority in Congress. It is also useless if one’s real ideas are total failures (i.e. Obamacare). When you are a visible failure, great speeches won’t work. The magic is gone.
So while Obama’s disengagement may be grating to Liberals, he wouldn’t succeed at much on Dowd’s domestic agenda no matter what he did. And people who worry about their legacies tend to want to avoid trying hard in public only to fail.