Great Recession

Obama's Luck Goes from Poor to Horrible, or, Political Comedy Is Never Having to Say, "I'm Funny"

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You'd expect it to be big news when a Democratic president manages to break a tradition of Jewish loyalty to the Democratic Party that goes back to Harry Truman's administration. Yet the establishment media seem determined to see last week's victory by Republican Bob Turner in the Brooklyn/Queens congressional race as a fluke.  

Turner made President Obama's purported lukewarm support for Israel a centerpiece of his campaign. Ed Koch, who is said to know a thing or two about New York Democratic politics, actually campaigned for Turner because of the Israel issue. Polling indicates Obama's Israel stance or lack thereof is hurting him. 

But the Los Angeles Times' David Lauter makes the error of putting stated preference above demonstrated preference. Looking to Gallup results rather than how people actually, you know, voted, Lauter concludes the election was "probably not" a sign of the president's weakness among Jewish voters. And New York magazine picks this curious moment to anoint Obama America's first Jewish president, a piece of humor that managed to evoke only unintentional laughter

It's Obama's turn to cry.

The defeat in the 9th congressional district is just one of several pieces of evidence that Obama has contracted second-term-itis in his first term. House Democrats want to see a primary challenge. His team can't get its story straight on Solyndra. His big announcement of the American Jobs Act fell so flat that he had to do a followup speech this morning that got even less attention. His secretary of state – a figure of highest integrity and deep loyalty to Obama who would never try to get the inside track on him if she thought she could pull it off – is more popular than he is and is being discussed as a replacement candidate for 2012. ABC's Jake Tapper notes that Obama staffers' claims of having been misquoted by themselves in Ron Suskind's critical new book are mostly not credible. (Best response: Treasury Secretary Geithner channeling Pee Wee Herman's "I don't have to see it; I lived it.") The president can't even belabor that saying about Warren Buffett's secretary without bringing down the wrath of the nation's administrative assistants. 

And these aren't even the biggest Obama fiascos of September. For that you'll have to look to AttackWatch.com, which was ill-conceived to begin with (Nobody ever won an election by acting like a victim); has a stupid name (What decent person would watch an attack? You're supposed to fight back against an attack); and drew a wave of negative attention. Among the critical raves: "immediately spammed with tweet after tweet heavy on sarcasm regarding the president's stimulus and jobs creation plans"; "stellar … for all the wrong reasons"; "most people have made a mockery out of the Web site"; "a terrific content-generating resource for right-wing bloggers"; and, from observer ironchefofmunchies, "the laughing stock of the internet." 

The Attack Watch debacle wasn't just bad for Obama but bad for comedy, producing heaps of subtle-enough-to-level-cities sarcasm like ""#attackwatch I saw someone purposely squeeze the Charmin in the grocery store" and "There's a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob." This Attack Watch parody ad beats you senseless with its comedy stylings, and the inevitable Hitler response went up without any subtitles. 

Still, Obama's fast fade is satisfying to see. After the sordid backstairs intrigue that brought us the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act over the objections of most Americans; after the automotive bailout and Cash for Clunkers and the unbelievably negligent expenditure of $787 billion in failed stimulus; after the expansion of the war on drugs and the illegal war in Libya; after his stubborn refusal to change course after the Democrats got clobbered in the mid-term elections, this couldn't happen to a nicer guy. It's always good for America when a presidency runs out of steam, and Obama's gift is to have had that happen after only three years. 

Also, that botched Downfall parody above led me to a version with the original subtitles, which is pretty interesting to watch after all those variations. Now I know what Steiner was supposed to do that he didn't do that makes Hitler so mad: