Did that shark bite … Obama?

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.”

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13 Responses to Did that shark bite … Obama?

  1. Jim Pease says:

    Well Don, perhaps you are the person who still thinks Krauthammer is even slightly credible. why not quote, Dick Cheney. Rove is a greasy political snake oil salesman, Obama although a politician has amde a semi valiant attempt to say a few truths that Americans desperatly need to hear. They won’t get the hard truth from Krauthammer, Gerson, Kristol or Rove and obviously not from Don Miller. It’s been a long road from the Harbor High paper but pointless rhetorical blather remains. I rarely read the Sentinel and for good reason.

    A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of argument to malign and opponent and glorify himself. Benjamin Disraeli

  2. Stephen says:


    Bush left such a mess, didn’t he?

    Much of what you cite as the problems that are going on now are from the past, the past 8 years before Obama.

    Bush et al had 8 years to make the mess and now you want to give Obama 8 months to fix it.

  3. tim says:

    a realistic point of view just might be voter remorse on steroids…

  4. RobtA says:

    Don, Don, have you already forgotten? The problem is not due to sharks. It is due to jumbo squid.


  5. James Anderson Merritt says:

    The Obama administration could NOT have been eaten by a shark, because they had already jumped it.

  6. Loveit Orleaveit says:

    You are being very disrespectful to the President of the United States of America.
    Let’s try supporting our elected official and ignore people who are threatened by their greed.
    I think this is Dick Cheney saying “I’ll bring you down if you dare tread towards prosecuting us for breaking the law by torturing anyone.”

    Huff and Puff you Big Bad Wolf, Cheney.
    Or is it more like Obama as Luke Skywalker and Cheney as Darth Vader?

  7. James Anderson Merritt says:

    About health care: Suppose someone snapped off the radio antenna on your car. So you put a coat-hanger in the hole and made do. After many years, you give your car to your kid and at some point, vandals rip the hanger off. What would you think of your kid’s values or intelligence if, despite having plenty of money in the bank for a proper repair, he actually went looking for a high-quality hanger to replace the stolen one, instead of restoring the antenna with an original equipment part? Now suppose that other people saw the pimped hanger-antenna on your kid’s car, and a trend started. It was now “in” to have wire clothes-hangers instead of real antennas on one’s auto — to the point that people would give up their original antennas and install hangers! Then, suppose that a headline-seeking politician decided that somebody should pass a law to require car manufacturers in the area to use hangers as the original equipment antennas for all new cars they produced?

    What kind of wacky world would that have to be? Unfortunately, it is the world of our US health care system, especially if Obamacare (or other socialized or single-payer schemes) become the norm.

    We have had broken health care for so long — since FDR imposed wage and price controls during WWII and LBJ gave us Medicare in the 1960s — that we think the workaround accommodations that developed during those eras constitute the natural and normal state of affairs. We look to improve upon THAT instead of returning to the “original equipment” situation we once enjoyed.

    How silly can we possibly be?

    Free-market health care, where the cost of health care is low enough for most people to pay for most doctor visits, procedures, drugs and even brief hospital stays OUT-OF-POCKET, is what we once had. It worked. We didn’t give it up because it wasn’t working. We gave it up because someone (FDR) “snapped” the original antenna off our car, metaphorically speaking. We left the workaround antenna in place for so long, over several generations, that we forgot what the original equipment was like, and how much better it could pull in the signals.

    We need to dump the hanger and invest in the proper, original equipment to make our health care system serve us as well as its makers intended. You’d do it for your car. Why not demand it for yourself?

  8. Lucas says:

    Amazingly, James Anderson Merritt makes a good point. Not amazingly, he uses too many ones and zeros to get his point across. Regardless, it’s a good analogy.

  9. RobtA says:

    As for original equipment… There was a time when some health plans covered male sexual dysfunction, but not female birth control. The rationale was to restore original equipment to its original working order in the first case, and to leave original equipment in its original working order in the second case.

    Feminists interpret this in terms of patriarchy and so forth. So, ya gotta be careful about the analogies.

  10. James Anderson Merritt says:

    Oh Lucas, how did I ever get along without you as my editor? Do a better job and I might actually care about your content-free criticism.

  11. James Anderson Merritt says:

    Of course, the writer knows he really pressed a button or hit the target when those who nevertheless feel obligated to slam him still acknowledge his point. Small victories are still victories, and I’ll take ’em any way I can get ’em, so thanks to Lucas for that.

  12. James Anderson Merritt says:

    Robt- I don’t care about “health plans.” I don’t like them. They are not what we need and they have, in concert with Medicare, thoroughly broken our system. They are nothing close to “original equipment” and should be scuttled. Males should be able to afford treatment for their conditions out-of-pocket, and females should be able to afford effective contraception the same way. If one plan or another behaves as you describe, consumers should be able to tell them to take a hike. Free-market health care would enable consumers to do that.

  13. Mark Randall says:


    Gutsy column (especially given your readership), but I appreciated it very much. However, as you and I both know most of your readers won’t find their way to your blog buried in the online version of the Sentinel. Recently I have noticed stories in other papers about Obama’s dropping poll numbers, and also about his somewhat controversial upcoming speech to school children set for Sept. 8. However, I have not seen these highly relevant national news stories (or many others that might cast the President in a less than reverential light) in the Sentinel.

    Don, are you afraid of presenting all the news, out of fear of your readership?

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