John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Vineyard

Posted on August 23, 2009

The Vineyard


            After narrowly missing Hurricane Bill (not the ex-President), his coolness, El Presidente, is ready to party for a week in the Vineyard with Skip Gates and assorted other celebrities.  I don’t think Officer Crowley was invited, although I have tried to drink a Blue Moon in his honor at every opportunity (it’s the least I can do).


            The latest controversy hitting the Today show crowd seems to be how much skin the First Lady is exposing by wearing shorts (not very First Ladylike, apparently), although we are sure to get plenty of pictures of a bare-chested POTUS by the end of the summer (must compete with Old Vlad the Impaler).


            Most speculation will center on whether the President will or won’t meet with Senator Kennedy during his time up near Beantown.  As John McCain said today, the President certainly could use the help.  Meeting often with sort-of lobbyist Tom Daschle doesn’t seem to be working.  Daschle was excoriated earlier this year by the left for daring to say that the public option should be dropped.  Can’t speak truth to power and expect to get away with it with this crowd. 


            The President’s approval ratings are starting to sink, and there is the smell of desperation in the air.  According to a Rasmussen Poll, only 27% of the American people strongly approve of this President, while fully 41% strongly disapprove, the lowest rating of his tenure thus far.  But the bigger problem for him is this creeping sense in the intelligentsia that he has no idea what he is doing. 


            As the Post Columnist Jim Hoagland, one of the creators of the conventional wisdom, put it in a piece today, is the President weak?  As Hoagland points out, it was initially Nick Sarkozy who first raised the question if Obama has the balls to get the job done, “Nicolas Sarkozy blurted out to a small group of advisers a question that weighed on him as he watched President Obama glad-hand his way through the gathering: "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?)…..Is Obama making tactical retreats to gain better position on these hard cases -- or is he, well, weak? It is an odd question to ask about a man who tenaciously fought his way to the presidency against enormous odds, then dazzled the country and much of the world in his first six months in office.  But it is one inevitably raised by Obama's conciliatory manner, his appeals to sweet reason and high morality, and his soaring rhetorical promises when he has to adjust means, goals or both. And it will dog his presidency if he does not demonstrate quickly that he is as good at handling adversity as he has been at exploiting initial success.”


            The President seems to have been surprised by the ferocity of those who oppose his plans to have the government take over a significant part of national economy.  He seems to think that if he can just reason with these people, as if they really want to hear another lecture from the one-time college professor, that he will win the day.


            But he has already lost the day.  His public option is dead.  His reputation is in tatters, even though he might not know it.  He misunderstood the mandate given to him by the voters.  The change they wanted was for George Bush to leave office, not for the government to take over most major industries in this country. 


            The President is retreating to the Vineyard, where he is sure to find plenty of people who think he is doing a great job.  Of course, most of those people can afford to pay more in taxes and probably feel a bit guilty about all the wealth they have inherited. 


             I went to the Martha’s Vineyard once in 1976.  My dad took me there when I was 13 (we were visiting Boston for the Bicentenial), and they were filming “Jaws” there.  It was a great summer to be in Boston, because that was when Boston (the rock group) had their break-out hit.  Their number one hit was “More than A Feeling”.  I have “more than a feeling” that the President is going to have a whale of a time when his vacation is over.  He has to confront the sharks in Congress.  But those sharks have had their own troubles facing their constituents over the last several weeks, and the only thing that they will wonder is if the President has already “jumped the shark” in the first year of his tenure in office.


            I hope the President has a ready supply of Blue Moon on the Vineyard.  He is going to need it.

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