Howard Fineman: Enough TV, Mr. President. How About Governing?

How do you know when an extraordinarily liberal politician is failing badly?

When extraordinarily liberal journalists like Newsweek's Howard Fineman not only notice, but are willing to write about it AND get their critiques published.

Adding insult to injury, in Fineman's most recent column, he expressed concern that "[u]nless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he's not going to be reelected."

Ouch. But there was much more in Fineman's, "The Limits of Charisma: Mr. President, Please Stay Off TV":

Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He's a man with an endless, worthy to-do list—health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, AfPak, the Middle East, you name it—but, as yet, no boxes checked "done." This is a problem that style will not fix. Unless Obama learns to rely less on charm, rhetoric, and good intentions and more on picking his spots and winning in political combat, he's not going to be reelected, let alone enshrined in South Dakota.

The president's problem isn't that he is too visible; it's the lack of content in what he says when he keeps showing up on the tube. Obama can seem a mite too impressed with his own aura, as if his presence on the stage is the Answer. There is, at times, a self-referential (even self-reverential) tone in his big speeches. They are heavily salted with the words "I" and "my." (He used the former 11 times in the first few paragraphs of his address to the U.N. last week.) Obama is a historic figure, but that is the beginning, not the end, of the story.

There is only so much political mileage that can still be had by his reminding the world that he is not George W. Bush. It was the winning theme of the 2008 campaign, but that race ended nearly a year ago. The ex-president is now more ex than ever, yet the current president, who vowed to look forward, is still reaching back to Bush as bogeyman.


To be sure, losing Howard Fineman is not anywhere near as serious for Obama as losing Walter Cronkite was for Lyndon Johnson. 

However, with each passing week, more and more liberal journalists are realizing what those that didn't drink Obama's Kool Aid knew when he first threw his hat into the ring in 2007: this is a completely inexperienced politician with absolutely no track record of legislative success.

As Fineman noted, "Never much of a legislator (and not long a -senator), Obama underestimated the complexity of enacting a major "reform" bill."

Hey Howard: where were you when candidate Obama's detractors were pointing out his astounding lack of legislative accomplishments and just how green he was as a senator?

Oh, that's right -- you were aiding and abetting his White House run by not bothering to report such insignificant details.

Nice of you to tell your readers now almost eleven months AFTER Election Day; you and your editors should be so proud of your journalistic expertise.

Noel Sheppard's picture

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