…and how it ultimately makes him contemptible:
For presidential candidates to rail against incumbents from an opposing party is normal; for a president to rail for years against a predecessor of any party is crass—and something to which neither Reagan nor Lincoln, each of them inheritors of much bigger messes, stooped.
Then again, the contempt Mr. Obama felt for the Bush administration was merely of a piece with the broader ambit of his disdain. Examples? Here’s a quick list:
The gratuitous return of the Churchill bust to Britain. The slam of the Boston police officer who arrested Henry Louis Gates. The high-profile rebuke of the members of the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union speech. The diplomatic snubs, petty as well as serious, of Gordon Brown, Benjamin Netanyahu and Nicolas Sarkozy. The verbal assaults on Wall Street “fat cats” who “caused the problem” of “10% unemployment.” The never-ending baiting of millionaires and billionaires and jet owners and everyone else who, as Black Entertainment Television’s Robert Johnson memorably put it on Sunday, “tried rich and tried poor and like rich better.”
Now we come to the last few days, in which Mr. Obama first admonished the Congressional Black Caucus to “stop complainin’, stop grumblin’, stop cryin’,” and later told a Florida TV station that America was losing its competitive edge because it “had gotten a little soft.” The first comment earned a rebuke from none other than Rep. Maxine Waters, while the second elicited instant comparisons to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech. They tell us something about the president’s political IQ. They tell us more about his world view.
I think that the contempt will be amply returned thirteen months from now.
And the contempt just keeps on coming:
The proximate causes of friction can seem slight, such as a recent breach of protocol, which left Senate Democratic leaders grumbling.
Obama left his party’s top senators, who had assembled for a conference call, hanging on the phone for nearly 20 minutes before National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling came on the line with a seemingly vague notion of what the call was supposed to be about, Democratic sources said.
The White House and Reid’s office did not comment for this article.
Reid has been Obama’s most important ally in Congress, but the relationship has never been particularly affectionate, even though Reid was one of Obama’s first Senate colleagues to privately urge him to run for president.
Obama and Reid speak frequently on the phone, but the conversations can be terse. One Democratic source quipped that it’s often a contest to guess who will hang up on the other first. Reid, as it turns out, doesn’t have a habit of saying goodbye when he ends a call.
So the contempt is mutual. Oh well, no honor among thieves.