By Michael Goodwin
The words cut like a knife. “What the hell are we paying you for?” Gov. Chris Christie asked of President Obama.
The New Jersey Republican has a gift for getting to the heart of things, and his broadside against the president over the debt bomb is Exhibit A. His assertion, framed as a question, makes the case against Obama better than anything heard from the actual candidates.
Christie’s decision not to run remains a disappointment, but he is a valuable player who can help sharpen the fuzzy aim of Mitt Romney, the man he supports. Christie’s consistent theme is that Obama has defaulted on the responsibility to provide presidential leadership during a national crisis.
On Monday, the GOP heavyweight called Obama “a bystander in the Oval Office” for ducking the congressional committee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years.
“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration about the failure of the super committee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved,” Christie said. “Well, then, what the hell are we paying you for? ‘It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved?’ Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”
The questions are rhetorical in that we know what the president has been doing and why. He plays golf and campaigns.
Governing is beneath him.
He doesn’t talk much to members of Congress or his own Cabinet.
They’re beneath him.
His connection to the public consists of speeches before large crowds, and he ducks behind the curtain and into the security bubble as soon as he finishes.
The people are beneath him.
Warped by a sense of entitlement and self-aggrandizement, Obama refuses to take responsibility for finding practical solutions to problems. He prefers the glory of transformation rather than the roll-the-sleeves-up work of reform.
When he can’t get his way, he appoints a czar and ignores Congress.
Democracy is beneath him.
He could have brokered a deficit deal, but doing so would have demolished his campaign slogan that Republicans are to blame for everything. Any deal would give him ownership of the results, and end the fiction that politics are beneath him.
In fact, he’s all politics, all the time. His idea of bipartisanship is that everybody agrees with him.
He’s so bad at the job that the frequent comparisons to Jimmy Carter are unfair to Carter. The former peanut farmer was a terrible president, but he was at least sincere in his starchy disdain for the country.
Obama professes to really, really like America. He just wants to change everything about it.
And when the country says no thanks, he goes off script and the smears come out. We’re “soft” and “lazy” and “bitter” and “cling” to God and guns.
Much ink has been spilled trying to figure out what went wrong after such a brilliant, history-making campaign got him to the White House. Obama smashed the Clinton machine and dispatched John McCain without breaking a sweat. Mount Rushmore was waiting.
But his first day in office marked the peak, and it’s been all downhill since. Deadenders, after blaming George W. Bush, Senate Republicans and the Tea Party, were forced to turn on their own, especially the economic advisers who are gone, Larry Summers and Peter Orszag. They were the problems.
But there are no hiding places in the Oval Office and, after three years, it’s clear who the problem is.
The campaign of 2008 looked brilliant because campaigns showcase Obama’s one real talent — blaming someone else for blocking the way to Utopia.
On that basis, he got the job. But now we know the terrible truth: Actually being president is beneath him, too.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist.