Barack Obama’s “charm offensive” is so transparent, so risible and so tiresome even his own people aren’t buying it. It’s got a single constituency as its target: the American media. One senior White House official admitted as much, saying “I hope you all in the media are happy because we’re doing this for you.”
After four years, Obama finally deigns to visit the Hill and open up relations with Congress…and expects the same kind of adoration given his every utterance by his fan club. The press is shocked that the Republicans haven’t rolled over and slit their own political throats in the presence of the Lightbringer’s plan for tax hikes and spending increases lasting until the sun cools.
It’s as if the White House and Obama’s political team believes Republicans will simply ignore four years of being cast as racist, sexist, bigoted, evildoers imbued with a hatred of the poor and who run on a national platform of strangling kittens and mandatory pre-school waterboarding.
His constant campaigning and reflexive demagoguery doesn’t feel like leadership…it feels like some kind of deeply embedded revanchism. His story is never complete without the Washington strawman to strike down, and as time has passed the strawmen have become more exaggerated and overdrawn.
In Obama’s rhetorical universe, it’s always the hateful Republican in deep in a volcano lair, rubbing his hands together and stroking a hairless cat as his plans for making Soylent Green out of granny come to pass. In Obama’s description, the GOP operates solely from malice…that is, when it’s not operating at the behest of History’s Greatest Monsters; the Tea Party or the Koch Brothers, depending on the day of the week. It wasn’t enough for Mitt Romney to be wrong in the Obama narrative: he had to be a murderer.
It’s not enough to disagree on the Paul Ryan budget…it’s a budget that is designed by Satan himself, and came from bill-drafting reeking of brimstone. It’s not simply that Republicans want to slow the rate of increase in Federal spending…it’s that they want to burn Washington to the ground, herd schoolchildren into sweatshops and darken the sky with the ashes of seniors too old to work in the fields.
That works fine when Obama is stoking the Democratic base. It delights the beta boys in D.C.’s fever swamp of “news” sites funded by lefty billionaires. It gives his rabid partisans, fanboys and the MSNBC crew a variety of tingles, vapors and stirring in their nether regions, but it all falls apart when Barack Obama has to step behind closed doors. And Washington, whether you like it or not, still works on an interpersonal level.
Obama is a man of noted charm, but only when mediated by a billion-dollar campaign or by a reflexively compliant and defensive chorus of advocates in the media. He’s brilliant and persuasive…when backed up by a phalanx of speechwriters at a staged event.
But when the interpersonal rubber hits the road, as House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy put it, “He’s still a law professor. He’d rather lecture you and put a red mark on your paper than talk to you.”
So you’ll pardon the GOP’s hesitation to leap into Barack’s arms and go riding off into the sunset. His contempt for bipartisanship, his heavy-handed style and his disinterest in viewpoints even slightly at variance with his own aren’t going to be fixed with a few dinners and visits to the Hill.
There is nothing in Obama’s history that even hints that he’s acting in good faith, and that the moment the GOP rolls over that he won’t continue his partisan abuse. He can barely bring himself to pretend otherwise.
At best, his contemptuous sense of entitlement and superiority steps on any attempt at bipartisan reconciliation.
At worst, it’s Ike Turner banging on Tina’s door, promising he’ll be better this time.
The GOP is right to treat this little show with skepticism.