Via Instapundit comes a link to Stephen L. Carter's Bloomberg column on President Barack Obama's separation from day-to-day life. Carter cites journalist Kenneth Walsh's work on how White House occupants are getting more and more isolated from anyone who might offer a discouraging or disturbing glimplse of reality.
Walsh, analyzing the presidencies from FDR's on, gives high marks to Clinton and Ronald Reagan, gregarious and cheerful men whose outgoing personalities set a tone that allowed them more frequent escapes from the bubble. Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, in Walsh's telling, barely even tried. For Barack Obama, writes Walsh, the struggle to stay close to the public has been made difficult in part by a staff that shunts aside advisers who "shake him up too much."
Carter's main practical suggestion seems a bit silly—get out and shake more hands, like presidents of the past and popes of the current moment. To which Instapundit replies, "I don't think it'll work. Fundamentally, Obama's entire life has been a bubble."
There's some real truth to that, I think, and it seems as if Carter would agree with Instapundit.
I don't particularly care about a president's ability to mix with the common man or backslap or anything like that. But Obama's incredible unwillingness to finish up the most basic functions of government—such completing the budget process on a regular basis—speaks to a serious disconnect with everyday life, I think. His recent New York Times interview, in which he blames everybody but himself for all the ills of the world, is a pretty stunning indictment of his inability or unwillingness to lead if it means actually having to negotiate and argue for your point of view. Getting a budget—any budget—through shouldn't be a second thought, and Obama can't pawn off responsibility for it on the GOP (his Senate Democrats are the real malingerers for the most part and he has abetted them by not kicking ass).