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Whether Obama 'Gets It' Is Getting Old

3 years ago
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The second most tiresome cliché of the season (yes, right after all those exhortations to "Man up!'') holds that even in defeat, Barack Obama "just doesn't get it."

"Obama Doesn't Get It,'' Victor Davis Hanson wrote on National Review Online. "Obama Doesn't Get It,'' John Gibson argued on Fox News Radio. "President Obama still doesn't get it,'' opened an editorial in the Washington Times. In case you're curious about Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's take on Obama's reaction to his reduced political circumstances, it, too, was that "Obama Doesn't Get It."

Conservative talking point? Sure. But at least on the subject of on our commander-in-chief's tardy-to-the-party lack of comprehension, there does appear to be some common ground: "He Still Doesn't Get It,'' Bob Jacobson blogged on the Huffington Post. "Does Pres. Obama Get It?'' asked Anderson Cooper's AC360 blog. And thank goodness, at his morning-after news conference, NBC's Savannah Guthrie hauled off and asked him, "Can the voters conclude you're just not getting it?''

His answer, I admit, sounded a lot like a yes: "Over the last two years, we've made a series of tough decisions but decisions that were right in moving the country forward and not slipping into a second Great Depression. With all that stuff coming at folks fast and furious . . . I think people started looking at all this and it felt as though government was getting much more intrusive into people's lives than they were accustomed to. The reason is that it was an emergency. Maybe people thought it was an agenda, rather than a response to an emergency. When I won election in 2008, people were excited about the prospect of changing how things got done. We were in such a hurry to get things done, we didn't think about how things got done.''

OK, so even presidents babble when they're in shock. Which may explain why Obama has sounded like our previous POTUS on a couple of recent occasions, praising the "heckuva job" Larry Summers did and bemoaning the "shellacking'' Democrats took on Tuesday. (When the GOP lost control of the House four years ago, Bush similarly called it a "thumping.") Obama's critics, however, were more drawn to his use of the uptown word "relitigate.''

"We'd be misreading the election if we thought the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years,'' he told reporters. "Who the *&%$ says relitigate?" responded a commenter on Newser. "Real people 'go over,' 'rehash,' 'fight over' things, but they don't relitigate them. He will never connect with the average Joe.''

Correct or not, that impression must have something to do with the "it'' that the only child of a single mom raised by working-class grandparents supposedly doesn't get. And surely some of the perceived disconnect is a function of the presidential coolness that a sneering piece in the Daily Mail got at this way: "Obama's fundamental personality problem is that he does not ring America's bells. . . . In the United States more than any other country on earth, the nation's leader needs to be able to simulate sentiment; to look as if he might drop a tear as Old Glory rises up the flagpole and the National Anthem is played.''

An even more obvious problem is that there's not exactly sea-to-shining-sea consensus on just what it is that Obama is supposed to get -- beyond, as he repeatedly said Wednesday, prioritizing jobs, jobs, and jobs. "There is no doubt that people's number one concern is the economy,'' he said. "They understand that I'm the president of the United States and it's my responsibility. . . . So I've got to take direct responsibility that we have not made enough progress that we needed to make."

For conservatives, "it'' means not relitigating but relinquishing everything Democrats on the Hill have accomplished since Obama took office, starting with the health care reform legislation that Republicans were fixated on Wednesday -- curiously so for folks who claim to be focused like a laser on jobs.

When David Gergen asked "Does he get it?" in a recent piece for CNN, the "it" he was referring to was the president's urgent need to start governing from the center.

But the "it'' in Joan Walsh's Salon piece, "Obama Just Doesn't Get It," two months ago was based on the premise that he's been stuck in the center for quite some time, and needs to exit left; why, Walsh asked, was he focusing on debts and the deficit while "ignoring the pesky left, with its old culture-war grudges and its subversive demand for greater economic fairness. I've heard some smart folks speculate that the White House may even welcome a Republican takeover, the better to 'let Obama be Obama,' and continue to play out his fantasy of being a Democratic Ronald Reagan, creating a generation of what he used to call 'Obamacans' and realigning politics for his lifetime. If anyone in the White House still believes that, they are delusional. If Republicans win back the House, they will tie up the president in subpoenas and bogus investigations faster than you can say Darrell Issa.'' Whom I think I caught a glimpse of on MSNBC on Wednesday, talking about how much he's looking forward to investigating -- er, working with the president.

My own hope, in any case, is that Obama won't spend too much time trying to decide which "it" to get, because I agree with the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman, who noted that Reagan was derided as out of touch in 1982 -- until, that is, the economy rebounded and all was forgiven. "Whether Obama manages to win re-election has little to do with how well he shows he 'gets it,' " Chapman wrote. And everything to do with whether his fellow Americans get jobs.

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87 Comments

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Blessings Dottie

Well honestly it isn't the saying that's getting old it is the fat that Washington isn't listening to the people and nirther do they care about the people. Goverment has gone astry and are doing whatever they want.They need stopped... seriously.

November 14 2010 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
glendaaparis

I have come to the conclusion Obama is not as intelligent as he thinks and/or tells us he is. He is not even close to being as intelligent as the "mainstream" media tells us he is. That's probably one of the reasons all his records have been sealed. Every time he opens his mouth his lack of intelligence shows.

November 14 2010 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kooter985

Less than one week after the shellacking, left wing media types are already trying to salvage this administration for 2012. What an insult to even compare Obama to Ronald Reagan! Obama couldn't hold a candle to Reagan in any way, shape or form.

November 07 2010 at 8:19 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kooter985's comment
Blessings Dottie

A revolution is brewing. When big brother has done enough damage you will see. Our labor force is a tough group of people and when a man needs and wants to work and there is no jobs and he is being suppressed by the goverment then that man will go to war to save his family.

November 14 2010 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kooter985

Here is what is interesting about Democrats. Nancy Pelosi was instrumental, along with Obama in giving their party one of the biggeste political shellackings in our history. Now Pelois is dumb enough to want to vie for the minority leader slot. What will tell just how dumb the Democrats in the House are is whether or not they decide to let her have the slot.

November 07 2010 at 8:15 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kooter985's comment
sunchld0

Nope, Fox News and the Koch Brothers' stealth campaign contributions for the GOP/Tea Party was the reason the Democrats were shellacked. Nancy Pelosi stood up for what the Democratic Party believed in and supported the President's policies. That is the sign of a strong, principled leader. The only reason she is being attacked is because she is a woman.

November 14 2010 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard

Lou Cannon, Politics Daily wrote: "I've been asked if Barack Obama can recover from the catastrophe of the midterm elections to win a second term, as President Reagan did in 1984" I read the article, and like some of you may have heard this question raised on occasion yourselves...Here is my take: Has everyone lost their memory? On Feb. 16, 2010 CNN.com-Transcripts...The president himself publicly stated when interviewed. He would rather be a one term president that got things done than a lame two-term.......mediocre president?..What does this tell you? President Barack Obama simply does not have it in him to change his DNA. Why do I, and many others say this? For me, I simply look to Obama's past and the people that shaped his life ...Most, if not all who influenced his life were left of center politically wise..All this is quite available and even written by President Barack Obama himself as well. Look from all who have impacted his life from his parents, grandparents, mentors, friends and associates, Church leaders, professors, and more political mentors, almost all were left leaning politically and some outright Communist....according to FBI reports themselves. These are the facts, if one simply wants to look them up. His only 'official employment' was as we all know, an attorney for the then known Acorn, and on occasion, was a quest lecturer at the University Chicago Law School.... and finally, Barack Obama was elected a two year State Senator position from Illinois...where he was voted to be the most liberal senator elected ever, and a documented voting record of more present only votes than actually voting positions. Obama then went on, before his senate term was up, to campaign for the presidency..... That's all folks.

November 07 2010 at 6:08 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Ukrainian

GEORGE BUSH and his tax cuts !!! 68% of current and future deficits out to the year 2018 are the direct result of these cuts. Add to that the idiocy of fighting TWO wars "off the books" and charing it all to future geneerations, as well as giving a $1.4 TRILLION drug benefit to old folks WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT and you have the crux of the deficit problem Obama and he Dem's were handed two years ago !! The people who voted Republican and Tea Party deserve what they get in the coming years, but they have a distinct advantage ... they are wholey bought and paid for by BIG BUSINESS, who has been sitting on all the cash that will drive any recovery. They bought the Congress and the Supreeme Court and soon they will own the next Republican President.

November 07 2010 at 6:04 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
Ukrainian

All of you delusional Republicans and Tea Baggers ... I invite you watch the clip of Ronald Reagan's budget director on "60 Minutes" last weekend. He's the ONLY Republican who is willing to cut through the Fox rightwing spin machine and tell the truth !! He lays the blame for current and future deficits squarely on the real source ....

November 07 2010 at 5:55 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
lpconman

The "IT" he doesn't get is that the voters rejected the deficit (both parties are to blame), the bailouts (both parties are to blame), the spending (both parties are to blame) but HE is SUPPOSED to be the Leader of the greatest country on Earth and does nothing but continue to tax and spend. It's really, really simple, Mr President: WE have household budgets. WE have attempted to live within those budgets. We don't borrow to live...the banks you and Bush bailed out aren't lending anyway! You're begging for a revolution. You enjoy the "crises" that you help manufacture. For those of you who are so upset by the election results: Why would you NOT want ACCOUNTABILITY? Is it too hard to do your homework? Do you know that Congress will be voting on whether a tax increase will become effective Jan 1? Are you aware that they will also be voting on RAISING the debt Ceiling AGAIN???? We the People who are sending real leaders like Marco Rubio and Allen West to Washington are holding THEIR feet to the fire. It is perfectly within our Rights and RESPONSIBILITY to do the same with the President!

November 07 2010 at 5:19 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ladycarbo

Obama's 'I get it' and 'change' got old for me within 2 weeks app. He doesn't want to 'get it' because he'll never humble himself to say or even 'think' he's wrong. People that think they're never wrong don't ever change to make it right. Never. It's sad really.

November 07 2010 at 5:07 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
hartno1

Yep, we the people get it. We have decided in mass that it's time to fire the liberals. If the far left doesn't understand it, perhaps it because they underestimated the majority by thinking we were scared and confused. I heard one liberal mention that Americans just need to sit back and wait for Obama to carry aout his agenda. I for one, don't want the government to sleep in the bed with me and sit at my dinner table.

November 07 2010 at 4:57 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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