Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Beginning of the End: Undoing the Mistake of 0-8

Olympics Defeat Will Hurt Obama [Peter Wehner]

I will, with some hesitation, dissent from Jonah’s political analysis. My instinct is that the Chicago Olympics fiasco will hurt President Obama a fair amount and that it’s not an “inside-the-Beltway” phenomenon (I usually think the “inside-the-Beltway” vs. “rest of America” mindset is overdone).

In my judgment, what happened Friday will begin to cement an image about Obama that is negative — that his supposed “golden touch” is very nearly the opposite; that his rhetorical talents and appeal are vastly overstated (he delivers a major health-care speech to a joint session of Congress and it does nothing to move the needle; he then makes a personal appeal to the IOC and Chicago is dropped from the list in the first round); and that he is a surprisingly weak figure who is easily rolled by Democrats on Capitol Hill, by adversaries around the world, and, now, by the IOC.

So much of politics has to do with when disparate issues metastasize, for good or ill. I don’t know if we’re at that point with Obama just yet — but we’re a good deal closer than we were. He hurt his prestige a great deal today, and he failed in an environment when things look bad and he is beginning to seem overmatched on almost every front. (The slapdown by the IOC, when combined with the unemployment rate reaching its highest point since 1983, is a tough combination for the White House.)

Things can, of course, change, and change quickly. But I suspect this moment will be remembered as one that adds to an increasingly negative “narrative” of the Obama presidency.

Few presidents have suffered this much loss of support in so short a period of time — and things will probably get worse before they get better. Friday didn’t help. Mr. Obama has sustained a political wound at a vulnerable moment for him.

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