Last Wednesday, the President sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for a wide ranging interview on the occasion of his first year as President. Stephanopoulos, thus honored, pressed the President on such matters as why Republicans are so mean, why nothing that’s going wrong in the country right now is actually Barack Obama’s fault, and why the American people can’t seem to understand his brilliant schemes.
If those don’t seem like particularly tough topics, it’s because they’re not. They are big, fat marshamallows lobbed by a good friend of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for Emanuel’s boss to knock out of the park in impressive fashion. Stephanopoulos and Emanuel are such such close friends that if George found himself on Cash Cab and needed someone for a Mobile Shout-Out, Rahm would be on the very short list to get that call.
That doesn’t mean that he did knock them out of the park, though. In fact, he had a hard time getting many of the softball questions past the pitcher’s mound. Perhaps the worst stumble came toward the end of the interview, when the President explained to us his biggest flaw and the one thing (well, besides Republicans and George Bush) making him unpopular. As it happens, the reasons his poll numbers are falling faster than Wile E. Coyote wearing an anvil parachute is because he’s been working so darned hard to make our lives better that he didn’t have enough quality time for us.
OBAMA: And, you know, If there’s one thing that I regret this year, is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us, that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. And that I do think is a mistake of mine. I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on the, you know this provision, or that law, or are we making a good, rational decision here –
STEPHANOPOULOS: That people would get it.
OBAMA: That people will get it.
You will not find a better example of the paternalistic mindset of the free-range progressive than those few sentences. Follow what he’s really trying to say there. America isn’t unhappy with him because of the 10 percent unemployment, the endless recession, the tax increases, the World Apology Tour, or the broken promise after broken promise. Oh, heck no. We’re unhappy with him because we’re not developed enough to see why Barack Obama is good for us and we need him to sit down with us and teach us, like a father would his children. Look at that bit about our core values and notice that he’s not interested in hearing from us what our core values are. On the contrary, he needs to speak to us about our values, so they can match up with the good policies he’s putting into place.
That’s not listening, but instructing. Barack Obama doesn’t want to hear from us; he wants to sit down with us as you’d sit down with your son and daughter and get us right.
Such an approach is not without pitfalls for our progressive President. He ran into one of those this past week, not long after his interview. One of the problems withtreating adults like children is that they will eventually start acting like children. Instead of coming to a town hall meeting and asking intelligent questions about his brilliant policies, people will bring their “Daddy, can I have…” wish lists, which is exactly what happened.