Showtime at the Apollo — Maureen Dowd, NYT
FOR eight seconds, we saw the president we had craved for three years: cool, joyous, funny, connected.
“I, I’m so in love with you,” Barack Obama crooned to a thrilled crowd at a fund-raiser at the Apollo in Harlem on Thursday night, doing a seductive imitation as Al Green himself looked on.
The song would make a good campaign anthem: “Let’s stay together, lovin’ you whether, whether times are good or bad, happy or sad.” Don’t break up, turn around and make up.
Times have been bad and sad, and The One did not turn out to be a messiah, just a mortal politician who ruefully jokes that his talent is hitting the “sweet spot” where he makes no one happy, neither allies nor opponents.
The man who became famous with a speech declaring that we were one America, not opposing teams of red and blue states, presides over an America more riven by blue and red than ever.
The man who came to Washington on a wave of euphoria has had a presidency with all the joy of a root canal, dragged down by W.’s recklessness and his own inability to read America’s panic and its thirst for a strong leader.
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria for this week’s Time cover story, the president is maddeningly naïve.
Asked about his cool, aloof style and his unproductive relationship with John Boehner, Obama replied: “You know, the truth is, actually, when it comes to Congress, the issue is not personal relationships. My suspicion is that this whole critique has to do with the fact that I don’t go to a lot of Washington parties. And as a consequence, the Washington press corps maybe just doesn’t feel like I’m in the mix enough with them, and they figure, well, if I’m not spending time with them, I must be cold and aloof. The fact is, I’ve got a 13-year-old and 10-year-old daughter.”
Reagan didn’t socialize with the press. He spent his evenings with Nancy, watching TV with dinner trays. But he knew that to transcend, you can’t condescend.