Victor Davis Hanson: Obama’s Real Problem

Roundup: Historians' Take

[NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.]

According to a popular myth, President Obama’s declining poll numbers are a consequence of his failure to be liberal enough. On race, in the wake of the Shirley Sherrod mess, we are told he needs to appoint more African Americans and bring in more advisers from the black community. On the economy, liberal economists decry his unwillingness to borrow and stimulate more.

This is lunatic in political terms....

In terms of poll ratings, Obama is in poor shape, but not necessarily in poorer shape than various past presidents who eventually were reelected. His problem is not, as he alleges, that he inherited a worse mess from Bush than Reagan did from Carter or Bush did from Clinton. Nor is his problem that he slightly deviated from his left-wing hope-and-change rhetoric and disappointed his base. His problem is more fundamental: It is one of self-knowledge.

Obama and his supporters have somehow convinced themselves that 2008 was the result either of (1) a left-wing American majority that finally came out of the shadows, or (2) a mesmerizing personality that by sheer force of rhetoric and charisma could take America where it otherwise did not wish to go. Neither is true. America remains a center-right country, andObama , the teleprompted messiah, has grown tiresome. If the president wishes to recovery politically, he must embrace a responsible, workmanlike centrist agenda, just as Bill Clinton did between 1994 and 1996.

Obama can choose to be a successful triangulating Clinton, or he can insist on being a failed ideological Carter. As the November election draws closer, those bad and worse choices will become even clearer to the president and his liberal supporters.

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Michael Reilly - 7/30/2010

President Bush's every utterance wasn't hailed as a moment of divine inspiration. President Obama, of course, has given the Most Incredible Speech Ever each time he addresses...well, anyone. The brilliant speech at the DNC. The life-changing speech on race. The awe inspiring speech in Cairo. The tremendous speech on the Gulf Oil spill (well...maybe not that one). When President Obama does talk off the cuff, he uses phrases like "wee-wee'd up" and "whose ass to kick." Personally, I prefer Bush's malapropisms to this guy's vacuous nonsense any time.

Stephen Kislock - 7/30/2010

What a serious allegation that some Politician use a "Teleprompter", in giving a Speech.

G.W. Bush, could of had thousand "Teleprompters", and would of Screwed up any one Sentence!!!!!!!