Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama in India: “Midcourse corrections” coming

From half-way around the world, President Obama told an audience in India that his administration would make “midcourse corrections” in the wake of last Tuesday’s devastating midterm elections.

He provided no specifics, but it’s increasingly clear that El Presidente hasn’t gotten the message. If he thinks that the only thing needed is a tweaking of staff and message to restart the domestic policy agenda he and the Democrat leadership began in January 2009, the wakeup call is going to come in the form of a bucket of ice water thrown at the White House.

NEW DELHI – Hampered by heavy election losses at home, President Barack Obama promised from India on Sunday to make "midcourse corrections" to reinvigorate his embattled domestic agenda in the face of a testier American public and more combative Congress.

Domestic politics followed Obama across the globe, and he tried to explain how he will recalibrate his presidency from the rubble of this past week's elections. The topic came up not in response to a question from a Washington reporter but rather an Indian college student, who told Obama: "It seems that the American people have asked for a change."

The president agreed that people vented their frustration about the economy by sacking many incumbents. A "healthy thing," he said, even though his Democratic Party suffered, losing control of one of the chambers in Congress. He said he would not retreat on spending money for energy and education, and offered no specific policy changes.

But then he added that the election "requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments. And how those play themselves out over the next several months will be a matter of me being in discussions with the Republican Party."

Obama's words reflected the new political reality, sinking in by the day, that he must give ground to have hopes of advancing the leftover promises of his 2008 campaign.

Three things, here.  First, a simple recalibration of the message isn’t going to fly when he returns to Washington and sits down with congressional leaders ten days from now. Although he has said that he would listen to good ideas wherever they come from, his performance at the Blair House Healthcare Summit indicates otherwise.

Secondly, note the exquisite irony in the fact that an Indian college student, with absolutely no skin in the game of American politics at all, gets the message of last Tuesday’s vote better than the President whose policies were so soundly rejected.

Third and most striking is his characterization of last Tuesday’s bloodbath as “a healthy thing.” Tell that to the dozens of conservative and moderate Democrats who lost their jobs on Capitol Hill last week. Or to the members of the 19 to 23 state legislatures who lost their jobs as well. Do you think they believe the rout they took was healthy? He’s the reason so many of them are dusting off and updating their resumes this week. Obama, in the midst of a long, expensive and flashy Asian vacation thousands of miles away, cavalierly calls the results “healthy.”

If there’s one surefire way to consolidate your losses, it’s to remain as out of touch as humanly possible, continue to isolate yourself from anyone who matters in American governance,  abandon anyone who once considered you an ally and continue to insist that all you need to do is tweak a little here and there.

The Narcissist in Chief has weeks, not months, to wake up and realize what happened last week. If he doesn’t, and he continues with his aloof, arrogant attitude towards the Congress and the American people, he will cast his 2012 fate in stone.


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