Driving on over-inflated tires, the Greensters tell you, is unsafe. If they're too puffed up, according to TireTrack, "they are stiff and unyielding...they could be damaged more easily when encountering potholes or debris.." The ride is "harsher" and nosier "in its interior." Safercar.gov, a government site, says bigger tires "adversely affect vehicle maneuverability...and sometimes lead to loss of control and crashes." Popular Mechanics warns to watch out for a more "brittle" ride.
Does this sounds familiar? To me, this was a perfect description of the Democratic Party until late last week, or at least some of its members, including the head guy.
But then the Party's bus hit some sharp tacks in the political highway.
First, Sen. Chris Dodd got embarrassingly busted by CNN for denying he put the AIG bonus clause in the big stimulus bill. After some detective work, the bloody footprints led directly back to Mr. Dodd, who was then forced to confess on live TV. He was, of course, "sorry." A giant round of applause from an outraged public to CNN for proving that hoary dog of TV journalism can still hunt. (Even if they did say in a story that the Chronicle was "quirky" and "circling the drain." We're all living in the same sink, pal.)
Then Mr. Obama took a header on Jay Leno with the whole Special Olympics deal. Really, this was a good thing for the President. It deflated not only his own aura of perfection and invincibility -- more directly than all the Geithner tax problems and air sickness stock market days could do, but it helped correct the serious hot air much of the citizenry has blown into his mythology since sometime before the Democratic nomination.
Better than the endearing "ahh"s and "uhhh"s Mr. Obama injects into his otherwise high oratory when the prompter's not handy, a little political incorrectness humanizes him in a way that lets us be publicly irritated but privately relieved that it's not just our own house or our neighbor's where people occasionally say unintentionally cruel things.
All of our presidents have had some clay on their feet since John Kennedy and that's better for the expectation derivative markets, especially in a multiple crisis world.
While Mr. Dodd may feel differently, his face a brilliant red on the Hi-Def sets selling a little more slowly to a financially wounded populace, he nobly sacrificed his trustworthiness on the altar of his party's hubris and helped cure the hangover from the boot heel stomp of the last presidential and congressional election and the ebullience of the inauguration.
Let's just have everybody come back down to earth, where solutions might be found.
Even what Politico calls the "sympathetic and at times gushing (media) toward Obama" threw some of its heaviest pointed objects at the President over the weekend. The days of speaking the name Barack Obama as though it were a beautiful sonnet are clearly over for our fellow drain-dwellers at the New York Times. Columnist Frank Rich said that because of Mr. Obama's unwillingness to address constituent anger over the bonus, "our economy will be paralyzed." Mr. Rich's neighbor on those pages, Thomas Friedman, who has always known how to solve the Mideast crisis, wrote that President Obama lacked "inspirational leadership." Pulitzer-winning economist Paul Krugman trashed the Administration's economic plan and said "the zombies have won." And Maureen Dowd, my favorite poet at that place, noted that we needed "less smooth jazz and more martial brass," suggesting that Michelle Obama may have more brass parts than her husband.
That's enough piling on in the (current) establishment paper of record to make any good Democrat weep. Then, on the editorial page, the anonymous and weighty editorial writers actually compared some of Mr. Obama's policies to George W. "Bush team's benighted ideas." Ouch. George Bush and Barack Obama tarred in the same sentence? The Times Ed page doesn't blow spitballs more saliva-filled than that. (I always have to look up "benighted".)
Even "60 Minutes"' Steve Kroft departed from the show's Upper East Side decorum by asking the President in a show aired Sunday: "Are you punch drunk?" Fortunately, Mr. Obama did not retreat into inappropriate references to AA or Mickey Rourke.
Finally, Hugo Chavez, always good at sensing opportunity, called President Obama a "poor ignorant person," according to the AP. No return comment from the White House. We have to be careful here because we get a lot of oil from Venezuela.
So, particularly with inflation fears peaking out from around the corner, this deflation of the last few days may be part of our healing process, even though we're still not sure how wounded we are.
For more, read Bronstein at Large.
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