Monday, March 23, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

After selling himself to the American people more relentlessly than the Geico gecko, ETrade baby and FreeCreditReport troubadour, could some of the luster be off the Barack Obama brand? Is it possible that the country could be starting to question exactly what it was they bought when they elected him four months ago?

First, Obama has had a great deal of trouble in just assembling his cabinet due to poor vetting and lack of focus. Though, considering the nominees were about to work for the least vetted president ever, it should have come as no surprise. Then you had the fact that he and his administration set the wrong tone from the outset, scaring the American people when they needed to be assured.

But things are unraveling for the president at a fast pace -- and what he's losing is his mystique, his allure, his messiah-like glow. It is not surprising that his Vice President is already mocking his Christ-like image, explaining at the 124th annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. that Obama was missing the dinner because he was preparing for Easter, “because he thinks it’s about him [Obama].”

There was, of course, his unfortunate attempt at humor on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno when he inserted his foot in his mouth more deftly than any Bush had in the past, saying he bowled so poorly, "it was like the Special Olympics or something."

Then last night, 60 Minutes broadcast a twenty minute interview with the president, conducted by Steve Kroft. Now, 60 Minutes is not known for a conservative bent, nor have they ever been associated with any vast right wing conspiracy. Yet, their reporter observed something very odd in the demeanor of our 44th president during the interview. Obama had the giggles.

During an interchange on bailouts,Obama said, "I just want to say that-- the only thing less popular than putting money into banks is putting money (LAUGHS) into the auto industry."

He continued laughing and Kroft commented on the awkwardness of the president "laughing about some of these problems." Kroft imagined the viewers might be taken aback seeing the president "sitting there just making jokes about money." Kroft then said, after being interrupted again by Obama's laughter, what many of us were thinking, "Are you punch drunk?

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He's suffering from extreme flop sweat and is experiencing the nervous laughter that comes with it. After all, he has no clue what he's doing, and everyone is looking to him for answers. You could laugh or you could cry. Obama has chosen to laugh.

But the missteps from Obama don't stop here. There is the letter he wrote to former French president Jacques Chirac which used the type of diplomatic formality more appropriate if Chirac were still president, and not Nicolas Sarkozy. This unfortunate breach of etiquette is more troublesome because Sarkozy already has felt snubbed by Obama and his extending his offer of friendship and work to Sarkozy's predecessor could only exacerbate his feelings.

Obama has already upset another of our most significant allies, snubbing Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier this month. When Brown traveled to D.C. to meet with the president, Obama rejected the idea of a joint press conference, instead letting the media in for a quick meet and greet. It was expected that the U.S. President would have wanted to stand side-by-side as Presidents and Prime Ministers have time and again. But, he relegated Brown to the back room, while making time to meet later with Boy Scouts.

It's amateur hour in Washington, even the most rabid of his supporters must see that now.

We know, intellecutally, that we shouldn't treat a campaign for president like an extended QVC episode -- but we did, and now we're stuck with the product that had the best pitch, but didn't deliver what it promised.

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