The New York Times editorial board on Sunday absolutely tore Barack Obama apart for his handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The president cannot plug the leak or magically clean up the fouled Gulf of Mexico. But he and his administration need to do a lot more to show they are on top of this mess, and not perpetually behind the curve," wrote the Times.
"It certainly should not have taken days for Mr. Obama to get publicly involved in the oil spill, or even longer for his administration to start putting the heat on BP for its inadequate response and failure to inform the public about the size of the spill."
Quite surprisingly, the Times was just getting warmed up:
If ever there was a test of President Obama's vision of government - one that cannot solve all problems, but does what people cannot do for themselves - it is this nerve-racking early summer of 2010, with oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico and far too many Americans out of work for far too long.
The country is frustrated and apprehensive and still waiting for Mr. Obama to put his vision into action. [...]
Americans need to know that Mr. Obama, whose coolness can seem like detachment, is engaged. This is not a mere question of presentation or stagecraft, although the White House could do better at both. (We cringed when he told the "Today" show that he had spent important time figuring out "whose ass to kick" about the spill. Everyone knew that answer on Day 2.)
But a year and a half into this presidency, the contemplative nature that was so appealing in a candidate can seem indecisive in a president. His promise of bipartisanship seems naïve. His inclination to hold back, then ride to the rescue, has sometimes made problems worse. [...]
It took too long for Mr. Obama to say that the Coast Guard and not BP was in charge of operations in the gulf and it's still not clear that is true.
Readers should keep in mind this editorial was likely being produced at around the same time the paper's Washington correspondent Helene Cooper was telling Chris Matthews Obama's presidency "will go the way of Jimmy Carter's" if he doesn't get control of this spill.
Adding insult to injury, Times columnist Maureen Dowd also went after Obama in her piece published Sunday:
The press traveling with Obama on the campaign never had a lovey-dovey relationship with him. He treated us with aloof correctness, and occasional spurts of irritation. Like many Democrats, he thinks the press is supposed to be on his side. [...]
The former constitutional lawyer now in the White House understands that the press has a role in the democracy. But he is an elitist, too, as well as thin-skinned and controlling. So he ends up regarding scribes as intrusive, conveying a distaste for what he sees as the fundamental unseriousness of a press driven by blog-around-the-clock deadlines. [...]
Sometimes on the campaign plane, I would watch Obama venture back to make small talk with the press, discussing food at an event or something light. Then I would see him literally back away a few moments later as a blast of questions and flipcams hit him.
But that's the world we live in. It hurts Obama to be a crybaby about it, and to blame the press and the "old Washington game" for his own communication failures. [...]
Now that Obama has been hit with negative press, he's even more contemptuous. "He's never needed to woo the press," says the NBC White House reporter Chuck Todd. "He's never really needed us."
So, as The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes, the more press-friendly, emotionally accessible, if gaffe-prone Biden has become "the administration's top on-air spokesman."
How ironic. Instead of The One, they're sending out The Two.
This means that in one weekend, the Times editorial board, its White House correspondent, and one of its top liberal columnists made harshly negative comments about the president they all helped get elected.
This led Commentary magazine's Jennifer Rubin to write Sunday:
It's one more sign that the bottom is dropping out on Obama's support, and the unraveling of his presidency is picking up steam. Unless he gets a grip and finds some grown-ups from whom he is willing to take advice, this is not going to improve.