These people have some sort of condition. Whenever someone says something nasty about their resident God in Chief, they look for secret messages.
Let’s face it. Everything about Obama’s speech last night was weak. But don’t you dare say he’s weak, because then you’re attacking Obama’s manhood. You see, only the initiated can discern the secret messages contained within our newspapers. And these messages indicate there is a secret conspiracy to call Obama’s manhood into question.
So here’s where we’re headed next. The subtext of some of the criticism in the wake of last night’s speech is subtle, but unmistakable: Obama’s inability to halt the spill calls his manhood into question.
Here, for instance, is The Post’s Michael Gerson:
The setting of the Oval Office creates an expectation of decisive executive action. It recalls memories of President Dwight Eisenhower dispatching federal troops to Little Rock or President John F. Kennedy announcing the naval “quarantine” of Cuba. This speech will not be confused with those precedents. Obama urges others to take action, kibitzes with corporate executives, shifts some government personnel and signals the start of a review process. A crisis is met with a study. The action verbs in this speech have somehow gone missing. It is all rather limp and weak.
Gerson, of course, worked for a president who swaggered decisively off the stage of history with some of the limpest approval ratings ever.
And here’s Maureen Dowd, cattily mocking Obama because he recently acknowledged to Gulf residents that there are limits to his own power, which Dowd characterizes as so much whining:
“Even though I’m president of the United States, my power is not limitless,” Obama, who has forced himself to ingest a load of gulf crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish tails, whinged to Grand Isle, La., residents on Friday. “So I can’t dive down there and plug the hole. I can’t suck it up with a straw.”
See, Obama had to force himself to eat a plate of food in order to prove his heartiness. Get it?
Dowd’s obsession with Obama’s appetite (recall that she mocked him during the campaign for making a meal out of Nicorette) is unsettling enough on its own. But her characterization of this incident is instructive in another way.
If you watch video of the episode, you can clearly see that Obama is acknowledging the limits of his own power in a regretful way. He’s apologizing to Gulf residents by candidly admitting that the situation is out of his control. But Dowd is subtly distorting the episode in order to suggest he’s whining about how unfair it all is — in order to suggest that he’s a wuss. Sound familar?
The notion that the public sees macho swagger as “strength” and instinctively prefers it to a more cerebral, restrained and calm approach to leadership is pure fiction. Bush’s swagger did nothing to rescue him from historic unpopularity. The McCain campaign not-so-subtly cast the 2008 race as a macho war hero versus a puffed up dandy (see Celebrity, TV ad), and we all know how that turned out.
Polls have shown again and again that majorities regards Obama as a “strong” leader, and I’m willing to bet Gerson and Dowd a pair of Plum Line lava lamps that the next three major national polls will all show the same.
Those polls will say this despite the fact that majorities also disappprove of his handling of the spill. That’s because the public — for very good reason — is taking issue with the substance of his response, not the theatrics of it.
Regardless, you haven’t heard the last of this line, I’m telllin’ ya.
Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep.
For the weird ones, there always is a “subtext”, something only they can see and hear. Like a dog whistle. Only they can define it, and tell us what the subtext is. Now, the subtexters are finding secret messages written in the various columns that have come out.
Have you seen A Beautiful Mind? You know, where the half mad college professor starts seeing messages in the newspapers that aren’t there?