It was fanciful for the president on the eve of this week’s election to warn that the direction of his agenda would be predicated on the outcome in Massachusetts — and then, roughly 24 hours later, send his operatives out to assure everyone that Scott Brown’s victory had not much to do with anything in Washington.
When the most interviewed, photographed, and talkative president in recent history insists that his problems are a result of neglecting to communicate with the American people (“We lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people”), something seems unhinged. All that deception and contradiction do nothing to mitigate the popular outrage against Obama’s broken promises on everything from airing the health-care debate on C-Span to closing down Guantanamo this week. The growing denial of reality is really hard to juxtapose with the effectiveness of Obama’s 2008 campaign; it almost reminds one of Nixon’s slick 1972 CREEP campaign followed by his descent into “Let me be perfectly clear” denials during much of 1973. Perhaps, in a way, it all makes perfect sense: The arrogance instilled by a successful campaign leads to excess that finishes in nemesis.