We Are All Malia Now

By Clive Crook

Commentators are achieving something close to all-faction consensus over Obama's oil-spill performance. Many liberals, following the path marked out by a near-hysterical James Carville, now seem angrier than Obama's usual opponents, who at least have the consolation of seeing the president assailed from all sides.

Apparently it is a great idea to elect a president who is calm in a crisis, except when there's a crisis. Then what you need is somebody to lead the nation in panic -- or, as Maureen Dowd put it, to be "a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting [sic] what Americans feel so they know he gets it." What the nation needs at times like this in fact is a daddy who will stop being so remote, and make everything all right. You think I'm exaggerating? Dowd:

Oddly, the good father who wrote so poignantly about growing up without a daddy scorns the paternal aspect of the presidency.

The paternal aspect of the presidency. We are all Malia now. "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"

David Gergen does not actually ask to have his head patted, but he channels Peggy Noonan's view that unless Obama does something -- just does something -- it could be all over for the presidency. Gergen suggests a detailed program of moving the deckchairs around, concluding:

And finally, very importantly, exercise the powers of leadership every day from the Oval Office.

Yes, just exercise those powers. Why didn't they think of that?

Speaking of deckchairs, John Dickerson calls for more creativity:

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu seems to be the best place to look so far. He used gamma rays to help focus on the initial size of the leak. In other quarters there's also brainstorming that might lead to a spark. For example, federal officials are now talking to Titanic director James Cameron.

All right. Gamma rays. Cool undersea robots. Now we're getting somewhere.

And at least we can be more certain of our ideological convictions. As Donna Brazile notes, the oil spill proves we need big government. That's something. I remember thinking much the same after the meltdown at Chernobyl. It's bad, but at least they have big government to sort it all out.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/06/we-are-all-malia-now/57565/