John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Becoming All About Him

Posted on September 15, 2009

Candidate Barack Obama’s central insight during the Presidential campaign was that the campaign was not about him. It was about the voters.

He would say it again and again on the campaign trail. He was just a vessel for the voter’s wishes. He understood that many Americans wanted to vote for Barack Obama, not because they knew that much about his policies (which were under-explained) or his experience (which was non-existent) or even about his background (which was by American standards, non-traditional), but because they wanted to feel good about themselves.

Obama’s campaign slogan was unifying in that sense. My three year old son still says “Yes, we can” when he sees the President on the television screen. Yes, we can.

But as candidate Obama became President Obama, the focus shifted. Instead of “Yes, We Can”, the slogan has changed to “Yes, I can.”

The President is starting to believe his own press clippings.

The point was driven home to me by the President’s speech last week before the Congress.

He had an amazing line in the address. He said, “I am not the first to try to get health care reform in the country, but I am to be the last.”

I still don’t know what he was trying to say in that line, but I know what it said to me, and in no uncertain terms. “This is all about me. Not you.”

In fact, I think he is right. It has all become about him.

And that is not very good for the future of his agenda.

The President’s people seem to have consciously made the decision to overexpose him at every possible moment.

There he is dining in Paris with his wife. How glamorous! There is dating his wife in New York. How swell!

There is on The Tonight Show. And on 60 Minutes. And again on 60 Minutes. And again on 60 Minutes.

There he is on another magazine cover. And another one. And another one.

Wow, the man is a rock star.

But an overexposed rock star becomes a bore. And the President has become worse than a bore to more and more Americans. He has become the One.

The one to blame when they lose their job. The one to protest when their taxes go up. The one to despise when Washington gets spends too much money.

The President continues to give speech after speech, but I think the novelty has worn off.

The Chicago White Sox, the President’s baseball team (and mine, coincidentally), started the season with their closer being Bobby Jenks. Every time they were winning by a slim margin going into the 9th inning, they would give the ball to Bobby Jenks.

But midway through the season, Jenks lost his magic. He started losing games. The hitters starting figuring out his fast ball.

And the White Sox never really recovered.

Barack Obama is starting to lose his fastball.

And I think it is because he lost his focus.

During the campaign, he focused on the people. But now, he is focused on his own place in history.

It’s not about us anymore. It’s about him. And that is why he starting to lose momentum on his agenda.

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