Toby Harnden, the great columnist and blogger for The Telegraph newspaper, has an article titled Barack Obama must stop campaigning and start governing.
The thrust of the article is that the U.S., being the land of the permanent campaign, naturally gave rise to the President who is on permanent campaign:
Perhaps we should not be surprised that the land of the permanent campaign has produced a president like Barack Obama. During his White House bid, Mr Obama’s staff argued that his masterful oversight of the machinery that ultimately got him elected was his highest achievement.
There definitely is truth to Harnden’s observation. Having no substantive achievement in his life other than his own political career, Obama’s claim to the throne was that he claimed the throne. Much like the proverbial dog chasing the car, now that Obama has caught the throne, he doesn’t know what to do with it.
Harnden then notes the paradox of asking someone who never governed anything to govern a vast nation with competing interests and checks and balances:
Therein lies the problem. While campaigning could centre around soaring rhetoric, governing is altogether messier. It involves tough, unpopular choices and cutting deals with opponents. It requires doing things rather than talking about them, let alone just being.
Mr Obama is showing little appetite for this. Instead of being the commander-in-chief, he is the campaigner-in-chief….
Beyond the grand announcements, fine speeches and his eager acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Obama has yet to achieve anything of substance. It is time for the campaign to end.
What if Obama is incapable — psychologically, philosophically, intellectually — of stopping the campaign? There seems to be no desire or ability to govern in the traditional sense described by Harnden. Why would we expect the One seeking revolutionary societal change to fall back on traditional methods of governance?
When it comes to governance, what if the One who campaigned on the theme of “yes we can,” just can’t?
UPDATE: Whoa! Even Clarence Page is sick and tired of the permanent campaign: “A deeper problem is what the [Fox News] flap reveals about Team Obama, which seems to be more comfortable with campaigning than governing.”