Et Tu, Maureen?

by Charles C. W. Cooke

It did not come as a great surprise when the scales dropped from Peggy Noonan’s eyes and her ardor for the president swirled quietly away, but one would not have expected such a dramatic diminishing of Maureen Dowd’s affection for The One. Well, in a timely reminder to expect the unexpected, even she who famously considered opposition to the president to be a sign of covert racism, has concluded that Barack Obama, “once a luminescent, inspirational force, is now just a guy in a really bad spot.” In her brutal weekend op-ed, Dowd suggests that “maybe Obama was not even the person he was waiting for.” Republican 2012 speechwriters would do well to write that one down.

The New York Times columnist goes on to note that Obama must know “[he is] in trouble,” now that even “Harry Reid says [he] should be more aggressive.” One could equally argue that the president must know that the game is up now that establishment opinion is lurking around the gates to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (The usually reliable James Carville and Frank Rich have recently joined in with the growing chorus of liberal discontent.)

Dowd’s piece employs many of the criticisms that the Right has made of Obama from the outset. Most notably, it echoes the notion that he is an empty suit, is obsessed with speech-making, and remains convinced that the sole role of the president is to make endless use of the bully pulpit. Dowd accuses Obama — who she sarcastically refers to as “The One” — of suffering from “Speech Illusion,” which she defines as:

[T]he idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed.

“The White House team,” writes Dowd, is “flailing — reacting, regrouping, retrenching. It’s repugnant.” This is a wholehearted repudiation from a woman scorned. Obama, once the great hope, is guilty of constant “miscalculation,” and seems constitutionally incapable of refusing a compromise: There is “nothing that the Republicans say that he won’t eagerly meet halfway.” Moreover, this behavior is unlikely to change, as Obama “aspires to the class that FDR was a traitor to; and he can’t turn into Harry Truman because he lacks the common touch. He has an acquired elitism.” Dowd declines to lament the missed chance that Hillary Clinton represents, but she does invoke her 2008 line, “Enough with the big speeches! What about some action?”

Et tu, Maureen?

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