The Campaign Spot

How Now, Down Dowd?

From the first Morning Jolt of what looks to be a busy week:

How Now, Down Dowd?

Upon hearing some buzz about Sunday’s New York Times column from Maureen Dowd, one of the folks I follow on Twitter quipped, “I’ve never read a Maureen Dowd column in my life; I don’t see why I should start now.” And I understand the sentiment; Dowd was catty, predictable, shallow, quickly-tiresome and full of the cheapest of cheap-shots back when her schtick was fresher.

(I can hear it now: “Hey, she’s a columnist who writes breezily and conversationally and uses a lot of pop culture references. I’m sensing some structural deficiencies in your glass house, pal.”)

But since she’s probably read often by a certain type of left-of-center, don’t-bore-me-with-policy voter, she might be a useful indicator of changes in public mood. So when Dowd writes:

The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters. His campaign is offering Obama 2012 car magnets for a donation of $10; cat collars reading “I Meow for Michelle” for $12; an Obama grill spatula for $40, and discounted hoodies and T-shirts. How the mighty have fallen.

…The legendary speaker who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative.

In some ways, he’s still finding himself, too absorbed to see what’s not working. But the White House is a very hard place to go on a vision quest, especially with a storm brewing.

Now, you know Dowd will vote for the guy… but if this is what his fans are saying… it’s not that hard to imagine enthusiasm waning among Democrats compared to 2008.

Bryan Preston finds those closing words about a ‘vision quest’ vague familiar, and finds:

Didn’t someone warn us in 2008 that it was a bad idea to turn the American presidency into a means of finding oneself?

As a matter of fact…

My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of “personal discovery.” This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn’t just need an organizer.

How must if feel for Maureen Dowd to realize that she is just now figuring out what Sarah Palin and millions of Americans figured out years ago?

Ed Driscoll finds Dowd, like most of Obama’s true believers from last cycle, a bit slow on the uptake:

Wow, a Chicago machine hack politician with enough identity shifts and name changes to make Don Draper seem like a model citizen, who’s chums with a former terrorist and a racist pastor right out of Tom Wolfe’sRadical Chic and who nonchalantly admits to eating dogs in his(?) autobiography is a nihilist who’s only in it for himself. Who saw that coming?

(Almost half the country, as it turns out. I suspect that number will “grow” even larger in the coming years, as former Obama voters in 2008 slowly begin to do a reverse Pauline Kael on the man: Barack Obama? Nobody Iknew voted for him…)

Our old friend Mark Hemingway reads between the lines to see a bit of professional strategy on Dowd’s part:

She too might be laying down a marker in the event that Obama loses. If Obama loses, she can point to this column in five months and say she saw it coming. Recall that Dowd largely made her bones as a columnist by jumping off of Clinton’s ship ahead of many of his liberal defenders when he hit the shoals of scandal.

It’s best not to extrapolate too much from a few examples, but it’s fair to say that Washington insiders are reading the tea leaves and increasingly preparing for a Romney victory — especially following Friday’s bad economic news. The danger for Obama is that in political campaigns perception can quickly become reality. If influential liberals such as Dowd suddenly have no problem saying Obama appears to be in over his head, pretty soon everyone will be pointing out the obvious. Thus far, Obama’s meteoric rise has been largely dependent on a press that went straight from beat sweeteners to beatification. If the press turns on the president, the Obama campaign may not know what to do.

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