It must be easy to be a card-carrying member of the elite media and the Washington insiders’ club. Here’s Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman on how “the establishment” is starting to turn on Obama.
Luckily for Obama, the public still likes and trusts him, at least judging by the latest polls, including NEWSWEEK‘s.But, in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.
They have some reasons to be concerned. I trace them to a central trait of the president’s character: he’s not really an in-your-face guy. By recent standards—and that includes Bill Clinton as well as George Bush—Obama for the most part is seeking to govern from the left, looking to solidify and rely on his own party more than woo Republicans. And yet he is by temperament judicious, even judicial. He’d have made a fine judge. But we don’t need a judge. We need a blunt-spoken coach.
Fineman goes onto list a dozen contradictory complaints that “the American establishment” has lodged against the president, including:
- The failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to “give up” something.
- A willingness to give too much leeway to Congress to handle crucial details, from the stim to the vague promise to “reform” medical care without stating what costs could be cut.
- A 2010 budget that tries to do far too much, with way too rosy predictions on future revenues and growth of the economy. This led those who fear we are about to go over Niagara Falls to deride Obama as a paddler who’d rather redesign the canoe.
- A treasury secretary who has been ridiculed on “Saturday Night Live” and compared to Doogie Howser, Barney Fife and Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone”—and those are the nice ones.
The only problem with Fineman’s column is that his entire premise is attributed to “they” — the establishment — which, according to our fearless observer, consists of a dwindling number of Beltway boys, the eroding Manhattan-based media and the scraps of corporate America. As if his lazy reportage and his half-baked argument weren’t enough, Fineman decides to conclude the column with an insult to his readers and the rest of America.
“The American people remain on his side, but he has to be careful that the gathering judgment of the Bigs doesn’t trickle down to the rest of us,” Fineman writes. The notion that Fineman is somehow down here with “the rest of us” is condescending, and plainly stupid. Fineman is so firmly planted in the ranks of the crumbling establishment that he wouldn’t know the rest of us if we sat on his face.