After a Greek-column backdrop of a candidacy, fainting audience members and a news media that got a thrill up its leg at his oratory, Mr. Obama spoke to adoring masses in Europe – and was handed a Nobel Peace Prize mere months into his presidency – not for achieving anything, but for talking like he might.
Today, his credibility at home and likely abroad is in a freefall after multiple scandals enveloped his administration. There’s even a petition to strip him of his Nobel Peace Prize, after his maintaining and even expanding drone strikes in the Mideast.
And if the Nobel committee thought he was going to help the world reduce its nuclear weapons, or even the interest in them, guess again: North Korea has become nuclear on his watch, and Iran is about to.
While his personal popularity remains fairly high, his presidency is stuck in cement and besieged by critics.
And did you ever think you’d live to see this day? A Gallup Poll shows the much-maligned President George W. Bush is now more popular than President Obama.
What in the world has happened?
A number of things, in our view.
Mr. Obama might be the first to tell you that being president is a lot harder than it looks. The federal government is a behemoth with a lot of moving parts. And for every action in public office, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And let’s face it: Life has a way of sending us near-constant reminders that not even the most powerful man in the world is in complete control of things. Events take on a life of their own; human nature makes certain of it.
But Mr. Obama has brought on a lot of his problems himself.
His presidency has been hyperpartisan, perhaps the most partisan in history, yet his Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill also complain of his complete lack of interest in a working relationship.
If the news and entertainment media had stratospherically unrealistic expectations of this man, he encouraged it with his soaring oratory and promises. One of his speeches suggested history might say his nomination “was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal …”
You have to wonder if he was qualified to begin with. Nothing in his work history suggested experience or ability in juggling a mammoth bureaucracy.
And despite the happy, hip persona he puts on in public, nothing in his limited engagement with lawmakers has demonstrated the people skills required of a president who needs to press an agenda through a recalcitrant Congress.
As scandal and difficulty erupt all around him, he falls back on fundraising and campaign-style appearances, though he is term limited.
The latter is a peephole into what may really be going wrong with his presidency.
In retrospect, most of this president’s priorities have revolved around solidifying a power base. It’s become clear that centralizing power in Washington, and more specifically in the executive branch, and creating a permanent Democrat Party ruling majority is Job 1 with this president. From health care to student loans to the auto industry and more, we haven’t seen this much of American life nationalized since FDR.
This sort of top-down, central-planning approach has never worked for long, and certainly is incompatible with the American system of self-governance – the foundation of which is individual liberty.
So, not only is he in troubled waters, but he’s swimming upstream.
If nothing else, future generations should recognize the folly of putting so much blind faith in one person, particularly one so utterly unproven and untested.