Obama’s biggest mistake
President Obama’s narrative about his “biggest mistake” in office has suddenly begun mutating rapidly. At the halfway mark of his presidency, he and his advisers were given to muttering that their biggest mistake was underestimating the intransigence of Republicans, or the depth of the economic horrors emerging from the Bush years.
Then the official “biggest mistake” narrative from Obama himself became his inability to tell the feeble-minded American electorate a good “story” that would help them properly appreciate his magnificent leadership. He was working so damn hard on his brilliant policies that he forgot to tuck Mr. and Mrs. American into bed at night with milk, cookies, and their favorite bedtime story about the joys of permanent double-digit unemployment.
“The mistake of my first term was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” Obama explained to CBS News in July. “And that’s important, but, you know, the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”
He would go on to repeat some variation of this claim during numerous public appearances, assuring surly voters that the utter disaster of his presidency would look wonderful, if he could just sell it with a good fairy tale. “I also think that over the first two years I was so focused on policy and getting the policy right, that sometimes I forgot part of my job is explaining to the American people why we’re doing this policy and where we’re going,” he said at a town hall meeting in Maryland, a couple of weeks after that CBS News interview. “And so I think a lot of people started trying to figure out, well, how do all these pieces fit together. The auto industry has been saved, and that was a good thing. Well, that saved a million jobs, but people weren’t sure how did that relate to our housing strategy, or how did that relate to health care. And so I think that was something that I could have done better.”
Look, people, the man “saved” a zillion billion trillion jobs, and he really, really cares about stuff like housing and health care. Stop pestering him with the actual numbers about unemployment, the shrinking U.S. workforce, our transition to an economy of part-time labor, the housing market, or the continuing disintegration of ObamaCare. Do you still have a job right now? Then the only thing Barack Obama needs to hear out of you is “thank you, sir.” His only real failure was not finding a more elegant and vivid way to say, “You’re welcome.”
But suddenly the “storyteller” narrative went out the window when Obama attended a forum hosted by Spanish-language network Univision. Now his biggest mistake is failing to secure “comprehensive immigration reform.” It’s not really his failure, of course – he just didn’t fight hard enough against those evil Republicans.
When Jorge Ramos of Univision asked, “What’s your biggest failure,” Obama replied: “Well, Jorge as you remind me, my biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done, so we’re going to be continuing to work on that. But it’s not for lack of trying or desire.”
Of course, that’s not true. Obama was sitting on a big House majority and had full control of the Senate before the 2010 midterm Republican landslide. He didn’t actually try to get immigration reform at all, possibly because he didn’t want to put something on the table that his own party would feel compelled to vote against, thus damaging their “outreach” to the Hispanic community. The Democrats’ efforts to completely erase the years 2009 and 2010 from history continue unabated.
As does Obama’s quest for a sufficiently self-serving “biggest mistake” that won’t damage either his ego or his campaign messaging, because Sunday on “60 Minutes,” he came up with a new biggest mistake: failing to “change the tone in Washington.”
Yes, the most bitterly divisive president in modern history… the man whose early response to Republican input was to sneer, “I won,” and say that “they can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back”… the man who said he didn’t “want the folks who created this mess to do a lot of talking”… the man noted for telling his supporters to “argue with” their Republican and independent neighbors and “get in their face”… the class warrior who blames every problem in American on people he thinks aren’t paying enough taxes… is disappointed that he couldn’t make Washington more unified.
“I’m the first one to confess that– the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren’t constantly in a political slugfest, but were focused more on problem solving that, you know, I haven’t fully accomplished that,” Obama said on 60 Minutes. “I haven’t even come close in some cases. And you know, if you ask me ‘what’s my biggest disappointment’ is that we haven’t changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked.”
So there you have it. What will Obama’s self-described “biggest mistake” become next? That all depends on who asks, doesn’t it? Rest assured that it won’t be anything he’s actually done.