From our Credit Where Credit’s Due desk:
Dr. Peggy Noonan made a house call on Saturday. And here’s how the Wall Street Journal political physician described the symptoms of what Campaign Outsider calls Obama Estrangement Syndrome:
Is the left out there on the Internet and the airwaves talking about him? Oh, yes. They’re calling him a disappointment, a sellout, a DINO—Democratic in name only. He sold out on single-payer health insurance, and then the public option. He’ll sell you out on your issue too.
The pundits and columnists, dreadful people that they are, call him cold, weak, aloof, arrogant, entitled.
So Noonan decided to give the beleaguered president a Christmas present:
There are people who deeply admire the president, who work with him and believe he’s doing right. This week, this column is their forum. They speak not for attribution to avoid the charge of suckupism.
From “an accomplished young man who worked with Mr. Obama on the campaign and in the White House:”
“Here’s what I know about him. He still has this amazing ability to tune out the noise from Washington, read the letters from the people, listen to their concerns, listen to his advisors, hear both sides, absorb all the information, and make the decision that he honestly feels is right for the country.”
He does this “without worrying too much about the polls, without worrying too much about being a one-term president. He just does what he thinks is right.”
Then there’s the staffer who “spoke warmly of President Obama’s warmth.”
“He’s a young president, young in terms of youthful.” Sometimes people come in to meet him and find “they came for a photo and he gives them a game” of pick-up basketball on the White House court. “Those are the things from a human perspective that make him so accessible. Accessible is the right word. He’s emotionally available.”
Abiding by the Rule of Three, Noonan cites another Obamanaut:
A third Obama staffer spoke of last week’s senior staff dinner, at which the president went around the table and told each one individually “what they meant to him, and thanked the spouses for putting up with what they have to put up with.” He marks birthdays by marching in with cakes. He’ll walk around the White House, pop into offices and tease people for putting their feet on the desk. “Sometimes he puts his feet on the desk.” He’s concerned about much, but largely unruffled. “He’s not taken aback by the challenges he has. He seems more focused than he’s ever been. He’s like Michael Jordan in that at the big moments everything slows down for him.” He’s good in the crunch.
Some may think Noonan is cynically trotting out worshipful Barackniks to underscore the right’s Obama as Messiah meme. Then again, she does end with an anecdote about Michelle Obama giving a couple of old Reaganites a White House tour that stopped by the Lincoln bedroom.
They stood in the doorway, and then took a step inside, but went no deeper. Everything looked the same, but something was different. “We don’t allow guests to stay in this room anymore,” Mrs. Obama explained. She spoke of it as a place of reverence. They keep it apart, it’s not for overnights.
Unspoken, but clearly understood by the Reagan hands, was: This is where he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. A true copy of it is here, on the desk. He signed it: “Abraham Lincoln.” The Reagan hands were impressed and moved. It is fitting and right that the Lincoln bedroom be held apart. It always should have been. Good, they thought. Good.
Good, I thought, Peggy. Good.