Which gets us to Tuesday. No one knows what will happen. Maybe that means it will be close, and maybe it doesn’t. Maybe a surprise is in store. But the fact that Barack Obama is fighting for his political life is still one of the great political stories of the modern era.
Look at where he started, placing his hand on the Bible Abe Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. It was Jan. 20, 2009. The new president was 47 and in the kind of position politicians can only dream of—a historic figure walking in, the first African-American president, broadly backed by the American people. He won by 9.5 million votes. Two days after his inauguration, Gallup had him at 68% approval, only 12% disapproval. He had a Democratic Senate, and for a time a cloture-proof 60 members. He had a Democratic House (256-178) with a colorful, energetic speaker. The mainstream media were excited about him, supportive of him.
His political foes were demoralized, their party fractured.
He faced big problems—an economic crash,two wars—but those crises gave him broad latitude. All of his stars were perfectly aligned. He could do anything.
And then it all changed. At a certain point he lost the room.
Why did the president make such mistakes? Why did he make decisions that seemed so unknowing, and not only in retrospect?
Because he had so much confidence, he thought whatever he did would work. He thought he had “a gift,” as he is said to have told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He thought he had a special ability to sway the American people, or so he suggested to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
But whenever he went over the the heads of the media and Congress and went to the people, in prime-time addresses, it didn’t really work. He did not have a magical ability to sway. And—oddly—he didn’t seem to notice.
It is one thing to think you’re Lebron. Its another thing to keep missing the basket and losing games and still think you’re Lebron.
And that really was the problem: He had the confidence without the full capability. And he gathered around him friends and associates who adored him, who were themselves talented but maybe not quite big enough for the game they were in. They understood the Democratic Party, its facts and assumptions. But they weren’t America-sized. They didn’t get the country so well.
In the immortal words of Inspector Harry Callahan, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I know mine – I could no more be president than I could do brain surgery. I lack the requisite education, experience, personality, temperament and skills. My best would not ever be good enough. But I’m okay with that because I don’t want to be president.
“You know, I actually believe my own bullshit,” Obama once told Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe. I believe he was telling the truth when he said it. Therein lies the problem. Two problems actually.
The first problem is that Bronco Bama is not qualified to be president. I don’t mean that in the birther sense – he passes the constitutional test for age and citizenship. I mean that he lacks the requisite experience, personality, temperament and skills. More importantly, he lacks the moral character.
That does not mean he is unqualified to do anything at all, merely that he is not fit to be president. He would have probably remained senator for many years if he had so chosen. He might have someday been successful as Governor of Illinois or even Mayor of Chicago.
The second, and more important problem is that Obama thinks he is qualified. Not only that, he actually believes he is the best qualified person for the job. He suffers from the worst possible combination of failings – hubris and incompetence. And because he is POTUS we all suffer as well.
November 6th will be the end of an error.