Yesterday, I wrote about the new generation of bitter clingers: people who in 2008 swallowed the hope-and-changey Kool-Aid wholesale and are now having a difficult time admitting that the whole shebang was a scam. An item by Dan Balz in today’s Washington Post suggests there is no more bitter clinger to that worn-out mythology than President Barack Obama himself.
The article is titled “Obama’s annoyance with Congress boils over,” but I’m not sure that the president’s frustration is all that new. Certainly his need to deflect blame onto someone else dates back to the earliest days of his first term, when his favorite punching bag was George W. Bush, the man from whom (Obama told us ad nauseam) he had inherited a mess.
Following the 2010 midterms, which ceded control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans, Obama split his j’accuses between Bush and GOP lawmakers. Never mind that the vote that put Republicans in charge of the lower chamber was the product of Americans’ dissatisfaction with his health care law, which has grown more pronounced over time.
Now with his own last election behind him, Obama has metamorphosed into whiner-in-chief full-time. Balz detects in Obama’s recent posturing a sense of impotent rage. He writes:
The president, tries to mask his irritation with assurances that his door is open, his arm extended and his willingness to compromise as genuine as ever. Here’s the way he put it at a meeting with his Cabinet on Tuesday morning: ‘Keep in mind that my preference is always going to be to work with Congress and to actually get legislation done.’
Hours after those remarks, he offered an assessment of his opponents that hardly seemed designed to persuade them that he’s really prepared to work with them.
Balz goes on to observe that each day the source of Obama’s agita is something different. On Monday, it was the stalled immigration reform bill. On Tuesday, it was the lack of progress on legislation to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which will run out of money later this year.
Equally variable is his mood. In his best (read: most mature) moments, he sounds almost suppliant. In his worst, he is arrogant, bordering on bellicose, full of pomp and empty threats.
On Tuesday, Balz notes, the president observed that it is the voters who can change the status quo and break the gridlock. That is true, but the likelihood that the next round of elections will relieve his anxiety is minuscule. The chance that his bitterness will intensify is not. What will Obama be like after November? It will be interesting to watch.