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Don’t miss the great Jim Ceaser’s new polemic in The Weekly Standard. Obama, he writes, has “become practitioner-in-chief of what Alexander Hamilton referred to in Federalist 68 as the ‘little arts of popularity.'”
These arts, Hamilton well knew, would become an inevitable feature of democratic politics. But their spread from the province of political campaigns into the “normal” conduct of the presidency represents a dramatic reversal of the Founders’ design. The Constitution was crafted to prevent a campaign-style presidency; Obama is in the midst of creating one. […]
What the president’s supporters add by way of explanation, if excuses for employing the “little arts of popularity” are still necessary, is that Obama is only responding to an unprecedented series of attacks from his detractors. But this explanation misses the main point, which is not the alleged behavior of gatherings of citizens, but the norms and standards of the presidency. […]
It may be, however, that Obama has created a box for himself from which he cannot escape. He has so monopolized and personalized the public relations aspect of his office that now only his own voice can speak for the presidency. Profligacy in the use of public access—almost a speech a day—has made indirectness impossible. A president who has become his own chief point man puts at risk an asset that is helpful to his standing and vital for the nation’s political system: the dignity of the presidential office.