The setting for the movie “Jaws,” you might remember, was Martha’s Vineyard.
President Obama just finished a vacation at … Martha’s Vineyard.
This blog earlier this week focused on rumors of sharks — and actual Great Whites doing what Great Whites do, which is eat up the competition.
Using the famous Occam’s Razor, with a dash of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Separation thrown in, how else to account for all the “failed Obama presidency” columns and stories breaking out this week than to think that the president’s aura and popularity was swallowed whole while at Martha’s Vineyard by a voracious media shark. (Friday update: “If Death Panels Were Real, This Measure Might Need One,” by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.)
Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer writes (in a column to be published Friday in the Sentinel): “What happened to President Obama? His wax wings having melted, he is the man who fell to earth. What happened to bring his popularity down further than that of any new president in polling history save Gerald Ford (post-Nixon pardon)?”
Surprise, surprise, Karl Rove today in the Wall Street Journal cried croc tears about Obama’s fall from political grace, in “Obama and the Perfect Political Storm.” A sample: “Presidents always encounter rough patches. What is unusual is how soon Mr. Obama has hit his. He has used up almost all his goodwill in less than nine months, with the hardest work still ahead. At the year’s start, Democrats were cocky. At summer’s end, concern is giving way to despair. A perfect political storm is amassing, and heading straight for Democrats.”
And then there’s the “indoctrinating school kids” flap, where conservatives are outraged, outraged, that the president would speak to children and, according to critics, foist his agenda on them. Or not.
Oh, that the criticism was only from the right. The left is not much happier. Writing last week in a column“Who is Obama Playing Ball With?” published in the Sentinel, Amy Goodman excoriated the president for playing golf last week on Martha’s Vineyard with Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank and chairman and CEO of UBS Group Americas. Obama in February appointed Wolf to his Economic Advisory Board, even though that same month ” UBS agreed to pay the U.S. $780 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to helping people in the U.S. avoid taxes.”
The president is facing growing opposition on a number of fronts: health care, obviously; the deficit, naturally; Afghanistan, increasingly (a New York Times story today said the president will need Republican support for his policies there) ; prosecuting CIA personnel for torturing suspected terrorists (check out David Broder’s column today, “Why (AG Eric) Holder is Wrong”); and for his puzzling and rather unexpected inability to articulate a clear vision for the country.
A Huffington Post poll posted this week showed an alarming drop in popularity for Obama — among Democrats! Overall, his job performance disapproval rating was 48 percent, with 42 percent approval. Republicans — whose 2010 election chances were moribund last January, are sensing a revival.
Krauthammer again: “After a disastrous summer — mistaking his mandate, believing his press, centralizing power, governing left, disdaining citizens for (of all things) organizing — Obama is in trouble.
Let’s be clear: This is a fall, not a collapse.
But what has occurred — irreversibly — is this: He’s become ordinary. The spell is broken. The charismatic conjurer of 2008 has shed his magic.”
What goes up, Icarus, always comes down — and the media and a voting public with short memories and tight pocketbooks is in no mood for a season of drift.
Or, “You yell, “shark,” and we’ve got a panic on our hands.”