I stumbled across an old press photo of Barack Obama delivering a speech in Pennsylvania in a downpour days before his election to the White House in 2008. You may remember the image yourself, his black jacket slick with rain, brow glistening. He looked heroic. The thousands who got soaked listening were heroic too.
That was six years ago almost to the day. It’s election time again – these are the midterms, when voters once more pick all of the House of Representatives and about a third of the Senate, plus assorted governors – and Mr Obama is getting pelted again, not by the elements but by those who think they know better than he on everything.
A tempest of pundits is harder to endure. It might explain why in an interview in the latest New Yorker, Mr Obama is drawn into musing about what he might do next even though he has over two more years in office. Or rather not do next, which is seek a nomination to the US Supreme Court. The question was cheeky if only because it assumed that the next president will pick him and therefore will be Hillary Clinton.
“I think being a justice is a little bit too monastic for me. Particularly after having spent six years and what will be eight years in this bubble, I think I need to get outside a little bit more.” He recalled, instead, the joy of teaching.
So Mr Obama is mentally packing his bags, unmeasuring the Oval Office curtains? They will be saying that somewhere. He has to be miserable, doesn’t he? Michelle Obama is a hot ticket on the campaign trail for Democrat candidates – she is in Denver today – but almost no one wants him to stump with them. And then there is what happened when he did get out last Sunday trying to boost the Democrat candidate for Maryland governor.
There has been some debate about the accuracy of this and I wasn’t there, but according to a Reuters reporter who was at the rally for Anthony Brown, “a steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium” while Mr Obama was in full, presidential flow. They were reportedly mostly African-Americans. Mr Obama was talking about voter turnout.
Was he really that dull? Has it come to pass that Mr Obama’s stock has fallen so far that even his most faithful friends, black Americans, can’t be bothered to hear him out even when indoors? I can’t fathom it. African-Americans may fret he hasn’t achieved more, but they blame Republicans for getting in the way, not him.
As if he had lost the plot entirely, the President is now being lambasted for telling the Rev Al Sharpton on the radio this week that he doesn’t mind if Democrat candidates keep their distance from him if that’s what they need. “The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress,” he said.
Reasonable point, no? No! This – allegedly – was stupendously clumsy, because it basically gives the lie to all those Democrats out there, like Senator Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, who have been so strenuously pretending NOT to support his agenda. What a gift to the Republicans, cried the pundits on the right and the left.
But Mr Obama is no dummy. He has good reason to be on radio shows with a direct line to black voters. He is explaining how things actually are because getting them to vote on 4 November in big numbers is at this point the only thing standing between Democrats and catastrophe. If it gets him a little wet again, so be it.Reuse content