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The Daydream and the Nightmare

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The above headline belongs to Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, and here was the subtitle of the post: “Obama isn’t doing his job. He’s waiting for history to recognize his greatness.”

Noonan’s disaffection with Obama isn’t new, and she just spent another column blasting him. She’s come a long way since she swooned over him in 2008. Then again, so have a lot of other people.

Noonan’s piece is behind the paywall at the Journal but here are a few short of excerpts:

[N]othing’s working.

Which I’m sure you’ve noticed.

But I’m not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: “So sue me.” “They don’t do anything except block me. And call me names. It can’t be that much fun.”

In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him—well, changed. He is “taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office,” such as hosting “star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight.” He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.

This is a president with 2½ years to go who shows every sign of running out the clock. Normally in a game you run out the clock when you’re winning. He’s running it out when he’s losing.

All this is weird, unprecedented. The president shows no sign—none—of being overwhelmingly concerned and anxious at his predicaments or challenges. Every president before him would have been. They’d be questioning what they’re doing wrong, changing tack. They’d be ordering frantic aides to meet and come up with what to change, how to change it, how to find common ground not only with Congress but with the electorate.

Instead he seems disinterested, disengaged almost to the point of disembodied. He is fatalistic, passive, minimalist. He talks about hitting “singles” and “doubles” in foreign policy.

Barack Obama doesn’t seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he’s made that have not turned out well. He doesn’t seem concerned.

If you’re a subscriber to the WSJ you can read the entire column here.

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