As President Obama today begins seizing the airwaves to promote his bomb-Syria strategy – he’ll do interviews with the leading networks today and a prime time address Tuesday – the White House must reckon with a single sad fact: Obama has never been able to sell the American people anything other than himself.
That is, the man can campaign, but he can’t govern.
Let’s use, as one test of his focus, the number of rounds of golf he plays. Last year, with an election to be won, he played 19 times. This year, with the economy still faltering, a full agenda to get through Congress, and the Middle East in flames, he has already played 32 times.
Obama doesn’t really want to put the time into the sometimes grinding mechanics of governing. He not only doesn’t care about building relationships on Capitol Hill, but he has failed to create consistent, reliable messages about his policies that people feel they can grab onto and believe. And you can’t govern by attacking Mitt Romney.
And so we were told that the stimulus of 2009 would bring unemployment down quickly below 8 percent and that we were entering a “summer of recovery.” Instead, unemployment stayed high and the summer simply sucked.
We were told Gitmo would be closed. That Syria’s Bashar Assad, upon whose head we now want to drop bombs, was a reformer. That Obamacare would bring down costs and that you could keep your own doctor and health insurance. That the deficit would be cut in half.
Nope. None of it.
These are not minor verbal errors. They are significant unkept promises and mistakes that suggest the president either was dishonest or extremely sloppy in offering them up in the first place.
Even seeking a vote in Congress on Syria is a reversal.
And so nobody listens. Despite an ongoing White House Obamacare PR campaign and a similar, earlier TV blitz by Obama, his signature health care program remains as unpopular as ever. He spent the summer of 2013 advocating some kind of economic program. Does anyone even remember what he was talking about?
Obama’s TV campaign to bash Bashar won’t change many minds. Unless one means that some inclined to support him will recoil in horror and oppose the attack.
If he’s going to win this, he’ll have to twist arms on Capitol Hill, pleading to skeptical Democrats that his presidency is on the line and to Republicans that Al Qaeda will, if we don’t punish Assad, get the green light to set off chemical weapons up and down the prairie.
Problem is, nobody on Capitol Hill really believes him either.