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Peggy Noonan: It's His Rubble Now

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At a certain point, a president must own a presidency. For George W. Bush that point came eight months in, when 9/11 happened. From that point on, the presidency—all his decisions, all the credit and blame for them—was his. The American people didn't hold him responsible for what led up to 9/11, but they held him responsible for everything after it. This is part of the reason the image of him standing on the rubble of the twin towers, bullhorn in hand, on Sept.14, 2001, became an iconic one. It said: I'm owning it.

Mr. Bush surely knew from the moment he put the bullhorn down that he would be judged on everything that followed. And he has been. Early on, the American people rallied to his support, but Americans are practical people. They will support a leader when there is trouble, but there's an unspoken demand, or rather bargain: We're behind you, now fix this, it's yours.

President Obama, in office a month longer than Bush was when 9/11 hit, now owns his presidency. Does he know it? He too stands on rubble, figuratively speaking—a collapsed economy, high and growing unemployment, two wars. Everyone knows what he's standing on. You can almost see the smoke rising around him. He's got a bullhorn in his hand every day.

It's his now. He gets the credit and the blame. How do we know this? The American people are telling him. You can see it in the polls. That's what his falling poll numbers are about. "It's been almost a year, you own this. Fix it."

*******

The president said last week, at a San Francisco fund-raiser, that he's busy with a "mop," "cleaning up somebody else's mess," and he doesn't enjoy "somebody sitting back and saying, 'You're not holding the mop the right way.'"

*******

This is not a sign of confidence. Nor were the president's comments to a New York fund-raiser this week. Democrats, he said to the Democratic audience, are "an opinionated bunch." They always have a lot of thoughts and views. Republicans, on the other hand—"the other side"—aren't really big on independent thinking. "They just kinda sometimes do what they're told. Democrats, ya'll thinkin' for yourselves." It is never a good sign when the president gets folksy, dropping his g's, because he is by nature not a folksy g-dropper but a coolly calibrating intellectual who is always trying to guess, as most politicians do, what normal people think. When Mr. Obama gets folksy he isn't narrowing his distance from his audience but underlining it. He shouldn't do this.

But the statement that Republicans just do what they're told was like his famous explanation of unhappy voters are people who "cling to guns or religion." (What comes over him at fund-raisers?) Both statements speaks of a political misjudgment of his opponents and his situation.They show a misdiagnosis of the opposition that is politically tin-eared. Politicians looking to win don't patronize those they're trying to win over.

But the point on the We Inherited a Terrible Situation and It's Not Our Fault argument is, again, that it is worse than unbecoming. It is unpersuasive.

How do we know this? Through the polls. In all of the major surveys, the president's popularity has gone down the past few months. A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll out this week reported Mr. Obama's job approval dropped nine points during the third quarter of this year, that is between July 1 and Sept. 30, when it fell from 62% to 53%. It was the biggest such drop Gallup has ever measured for an elected president during the same period of his term.

*******

The Democratic Party too sees the falling support, and is misunderstanding it. The great question they debated last week was whether the president is tough enough: Does he come across as too weak? It is true, as the cliché has it, that it's helpful for a president to be both revered and feared. But this president is not weak, that's not his problem. He willed himself into the presidency with an adroit reading of the lay of the land, brought together and dominated all the constituent pieces of victory, showed and shows impressive self-discipline, seems in general to stick to a course once he's chosen it, though arguably especially when he's wrong. His decision to let Congress write a health-care bill may yield at least the appearance of victory. And if Mr. Obama isn't twisting arms like LBJ, and then giving just an extra little jerk to snap the rotator cuff just for fun, the case can be made that day by day he's moving the Democrats of Congress in the historic direction he desires. All his adult life he's played the long game, which takes patience and skill.

The problem isn't his personality, it's his policies. His problem isn't what George W. Bush left but what he himself has done. It is a problem of political judgment, of putting forward bills that were deeply flawed or off-point. Bailouts, the stimulus package, cap-and-trade; turning to health care at the exact moment in history when his countrymen were turning their concerns to the economy, joblessness, debt and deficits—all of these reflect a misreading of the political terrain. They are matters of political judgment, not personality.

********

In this atmosphere, with these dynamics, Mr. Obama's excuse-begging and defensiveness won't work.

Everyone knows he was handed horror. They want him to fix it.

At some point, you own your presidency. At some point it's your rubble. At some point the American people tell you it's yours. The polls now, with the presidential approval numbers going down and the disapproval numbers going up: That's the American people telling him.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405...0713762884.html

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
Timeline

yeah the democrats are afraid for obama. heck even fox news scares them!


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yeah the democrats are afraid for obama. heck even fox news scares them!

They ought to be afraid. He's an empty suit.


I can explain it to you. But I can't understand it for you.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Morocco
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This article doesn't tell me anything.

Yeah, sometimes i wonder why Peggy Noonan gets all the hype that she does.


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big wheel keep on turnin * proud mary keep on burnin * and we're rollin * rollin

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The article says, and states what most of us in industry already know; you can't blame the other guy forever. Obama's beat this horse to death and he's not taking responsibility for anything, period.....

If he were in industry he'd summarily be passed over. He’s a whiner and complainer.


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Filed: Other Country: Israel
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The article says, and states what most of us in industry already know; you can't blame the other guy forever. Obama's beat this horse to death and he's not taking responsibility for anything, period.....

If he were in industry he'd summarily be passed over. He’s a whiner and complainer.

If he wasn't president, he might be the CEO of one of those bailed out corporations. At least then we could pay him what he deserves, and that would be very, very little.

Edited by Sofiyya

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Filed: Country: Brazil
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The article says, and states what most of us in industry already know; you can't blame the other guy forever. Obama's beat this horse to death and he's not taking responsibility for anything, period.....

If he were in industry he'd summarily be passed over. He's a whiner and complainer.

If he wasn't president, he might be the CEO of one of those bailed out corporations. At least then we could pay him what he deserves, and that would be very, very little.

the price czar would have obama couting trees? :unsure:

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