Ex-president George W. Bush with accustomed candor once shrugged after the end of his eight-year presidency, “People were kind of tired of me.” That ennui happens eventually with most presidents. But in the case of Barack Obama, our modern Phaethon, his fiery crash is coming after 32, not 96, months.
We can sense the national weariness with Obama in a variety of strange and unexpected ways. There is the self-pitying anguish of liberal columnists who scapegoat him for turning the public against their own leftwing agenda. The current silence of “moderate” Republicans and conservative op-ed writers who once in near ecstasy jumped ship to join Obama is deafening. A growing number of Democratic representatives and senators up for reelection do not want their partisan president to visit their districts in the runup to November 2012. Approval ratings hover around 40 percent.
Perhaps strangest of all, there is now a collective “Been there, done that” any time Barack Obama walks up to the podium to give yet another teleprompted speech. The speeches still are well delivered; he still has a way with the mannerisms and cadences. But even his critics pray for his sake that he does not come out with yet another embarrassing “Let me be perfectly clear,” “Make no mistake about it,” or “Let’s be honest” — as he goes back to bashing either the tired Bush bogeyman or yet another strawman Satanic reactionary who, if not for Barack Obama, supposedly would expose children to mercury, neglect roads and bridges, and finally dissolve government altogether. We have all heard ad nauseam that an eight-month-old Republican-controlled Congress has stopped Obama’s legislative agenda for three years.