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April 27, 2012

Peggy Noonan: Anyone Notice How Boring and Unappealing This President Is?

Uh, yeah-uh!

Worth reading in full. An optimistic take.

Republicans feel an understandable anxiety about Mr. Obama's coming campaign: It will be all slice and dice, divide and conquer, break the country into little pieces and pick up as many as you can. He'll try to pick up college students one day and solidify environmentalist support the next, he'll valorize this group and demonize the other. He means to gather in and hold onto all the pieces he needs, and turn them into a jagged, jangly coalition that will win it for him in November and not begin making individual demands until December.

But it still matters that the president doesn't have a coherent agenda, or a political philosophy that is really clear to people. To the extent he has a philosophy, it tends to pop up furtively in stray...

But—and forgive me, because what I'm about to say is rude—has anyone noticed how boring he is? Plonking platitude after plonking platitude. To see Mr. Obama on the stump is to see a man at the podium who's constantly dribbling away the punch line. He looks pleasant but lacks joy; he's cool but lacks vigor. A lot of what he says could have been said by a president 12 or 20 years ago, little is anchored to the moment. As he makes his points he often seems distracted, as if he's holding a private conversation in his head, noticing crowd size, for instance, and wishing the front row would start fainting again, like they used to.

...

He's raised a lot of money, or so we keep reading. He has a sophisticated, wired, brilliant computer operation—they know how to mine Internet data and get the addresses of people who've never been reached by a campaign before, and how to approach them in a friendly and personal way. This is thought to be a secret weapon. I'm not so sure. All they can approach their new friends with is arguments that have already been made, the same attacks and assertions. If you have fabulous new ways to reach everyone in the world but you have little to say, does that really help you?

...

This is the problem of the world now: Big mic, no message. If you have nothing to say, does it matter that you have endless venues in which to say it?

...

There is a growing air of incompetence around Mr. Obama's White House. It was seen again this week in Supreme Court arguments over the administration's challenge to Arizona's attempted crackdown on illegal immigration. As Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News wrote, the court seemed to be disagreeing with the administration's understanding of federal power: "Solicitor General Donald Verrilli . . . met resistance across ideological lines. . . . Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's only Hispanic and an Obama appointee, told Verrilli his argument is 'not selling very well.'" This follows last month's embarrassing showing over the constitutionality of parts of ObamaCare.

All of this looks so bush league, so scattered. Add it to the General Services Administration, to Solyndra, to the other scandals, and you get a growing sense that no one's in charge, that the administration is paying attention to politics but not day-to-day governance.

She ends by asking a series of "Are you better off"" type questions.

I really think it's as simple as she says. Ultimately this election is about the question: "Do you want to try something else, or do you think the last four years are the very best we can do?"

If you've Defined Expectations so low as to give Obama high marks, well, I guess you're unteachable.

But I don't think most people have decided Obama is the Very Best We Can Do.

I think they've decided the last four years are the best Obama can do, but not the best America can do.


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posted by Ace at 07:00 PM

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