Oh, the handwringing! From the LA Times:
If Ronald Reagan was [sic] the classic Teflon president, Barack Obama is made of Velcro.
Through two terms, Reagan eluded much of the responsibility for recession and foreign policy scandal. In less than two years, Obama has become ensnared in blame.
Cosmic irony, no? That the President who blames his predecessor for absolutely everything has become the superhero he didn’t sign up to be: Velcro-Man.
The mission among the press and the lackeys (is there a difference?), how to de-velcro the POTUS:
Hoping to better insulate Obama, White House aides have sought to give other Cabinet officials a higher profile and additional public exposure. They are also crafting new ways to explain the president’s policies to a skeptical public.
But Obama remains the colossus of his administration — to a point where trouble anywhere in the world is often his to solve.
Obama lately has tried to rip off the Velcro veneer. In a revealing moment during the oil spill crisis, he reminded Americans that his powers aren’t “limitless.” He told residents in Grand Isle, La., that he is a flesh-and-blood president, not a comic-book superhero able to dive to the bottom of the sea and plug the hole.
“I can’t suck it up with a straw,” he said.
Ah, liberal acknowledgment of the problem’s history:
But as a candidate in 2008, he set sky-high expectations about what he could achieve and what government could accomplish.
Clinching the Democratic nomination two years ago, Obama described the moment as an epic breakthrough when “we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless” and “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
But the Obama administration is about one man. Obama is the White House’s chief spokesman, policy pitchman, fundraiser and negotiator. No Cabinet secretary has emerged as an adequate surrogate. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is seen as a tepid public speaker; Energy Secretary Steven Chu is prone to long, wonky digressions and has rarely gone before the cameras during an oil spill crisis that he is working to end.
(Didn’t he pick his cabinet?)
So, more falls to Obama, reinforcing the Velcro effect: Everything sticks to him. He has opined on virtually everything in the hundreds of public statements he has made: nuclear arms treaties, basketball star LeBron James’ career plans; Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.
(He is incapable of keeping his mouth shut. Case in point: the cops “acted stupidly.”)
Few audiences are off-limits. On Wednesday, he taped a spot on ABC’s “The View,” drawing a rebuke from Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, who deemed the appearance unworthy of the presidency during tough times.
(And this proves they still don’t get it. You can’t have a president traipsing around to every talk show and NOT be Velcro-man.)
“Stylistically he creates some of those problems,” Eddie Mahe, a Republican political strategist, said in an interview. “His favorite pronoun is ‘I.‘ When you position yourself as being all things to all people, the ultimate controller and decision maker with the capacity to fix anything, you set yourself up to be blamed when it doesn’t get fixed or things happen.”
A new White House strategy is to forgo talk of big policy changes that are easy to ridicule. Instead, aides want to market policies as more digestible pieces. So, rather than tout the healthcare package as a whole, advisors will talk about smaller parts that may be more appealing and understandable — such as barring insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions.
Morph that message, anyway you can. But you’re stuck with Velcro-Man.
(NB: When your favorite pronoun is “I,” you’re not the best campaigner for others. Some have figured that out.)