For months, the White House and its allies mocked critics of Barack Obama’s leadership, arguing that no president has “Green Lantern” superhero powers. Now these same people are predicting that Obama can salvage his agenda by waving a magical “pen and phone.”
The contradiction illustrates how far partisans will go to defend a flailing presidency, grasping at slogans and insults as a growing majority of Americans tune out. We witnessed a similar drama under President Bush, who set a low bar for public approval that Obama is close to matching.
More than that, Obama’s plan to exert executive branch authority, starting with his State of the Union address, further illustrates his unfamiliarity with the levers of political power, the limits of his leadership style, and the vast amount of time and potential squandered by the president so far.
“We need to assure the American people that we can get something done either through Congress or on our own because what they want are answers,” White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“He is going to look in every way he can with his pen and his phone to try to move the ball forward,” Pfeiffer said. “We’re putting an extra emphasis on it in 2014.”
Apparently, President Obama cannot act unilaterally, except when he can. Given that the Obamaphiles are now embracing an argument they had previously ridiculed and dismissed–without acknowledging the flip-flop, mind you–one cannot help but wonder about their intellectual honesty. And you know that the political situation is bad for Team Obama when they are forced to extol the virtues of having the president act unilaterally, after having spent so much time telling us that the president cannot act unilaterally.
Finally, it ought to go without saying by now that no one should dare call this an imperial presidency; an imperial presidency only comes about when a Republican president does what President Obama proposes to do.