Maureen Dowd : Woe-Is-Me Obama Back To Being Obambi
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
…..With as much as 34 million gallons of oil inking the Gulf of Mexico, “Yes we can” has been downgraded to “Will we ever ?” It’s impossible not to feel sorry for President Obama, pummeled by the cascading disasters, at home and abroad, unleashed by two war-mongering oil men — plus scary escalations by Israel, Iran and North Korea. (Dick Cheney’s dark influence is still belching like the well. BP just brought on a new public relations executive: Anne Womack-Kolton, who served as Cheney’s campaign press secretary in 2004 and worked in W.’s White House and at the Energy Department.)…..The oil won’t stop flowing, but the magic has. Barack Obama is a guy who is accustomed to having stuff go right for him. He’s gotten a lot of breaks: two opponents in his U.S. Senate race in Illinois felled by personal scandals; a mismanaged presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton; an economic collapse that set the stage for a historic win, memorably described by the satiric Onion newspaper as “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”
Reporters grilled Robert Gibbs at his White House briefing on Tuesday about the president’s strange inability to convey passion over a historical environmental disaster. This was underscored by Obama’s perfunctory drop-by to a sanitized beach in Grand Isle, La. Despite his recent ode about growing up near an ocean, he didn’t bother to meet with the regular folks who have lost their seafaring livelihoods. After Gibbs asserted that his boss was “enraged” at BP, CBS News’s Chip Reid skeptically pressed: “Have we really seen rage from the president on this? I think most people would say no.” “I’ve seen rage from him, Chip,” Gibbs insisted. “I have.” Reid asked for an exact definition of what constitutes emotion for Obama: “Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?” Gibbs mentioned the words “clenched jaw” and the president’s admonition to “plug the damn hole.”…..This president has made it clear that he’s not comfortable outside whatever domain he’s defined. But unless he wants his story to be marred by a pattern of passivity, detachment, acquiescence and compromise, he’d better seize control of the story line of his White House years. Woe-is-me is not an attractive narrative.