E. J. Dionne declares, according to the title of his column, that Obama has to help America find its morning in order to keep his job in two years.
Not only are we reliving the 80's in bad fashion and the worst of the music of that decade. Now, we have bad pseudo-liberal pundits insisting that "American decline is the specter haunting our politics." Unlike Marx's specter haunting Europe - the threat of a people's revolution - this specter is more in way of the collapse of the elite's control over the veil that hides the decline that's been happening for decades.
There is much at which we can make fun in Dionne's column. Giving credit to H. W. Bush for "handling" the first Persian Gulf War? Um, it was a war he created! As for how he "handled" the collapse of Central European communism and, later, the Soviet Union, he handled it the only way a sane individual could - he stood back and made sure none of the dust got on his clothes. That's not exactly bold leadership.
All the same, the idea that Pres. Obama needs to convince the American people that the reality around them isn't real, that the statistics of decline, not just here at home but relative to the rest of the world, are all lies in order to remain President means that he, like his predecessor Bush I, needs to show no courage, deal in no hard truths with compassion and firmness. Rather, he has to continue to pretend that it's 1946, 1953, 1964, that we are still astride the globe with no peer, that our economy, our health care system, our education systems are the envy of the world, and that we will be the world's only superpower for as long as the sun shines and little birds sing.
Or, he could make them aware that, even as we claw our way out of the economic doldrums, we shall emerge smaller, and one hopes wiser and more chastened. Of course, he and his economic team isn't chastened a bit. They, and the Wall Street firms from whence they arrived, continue to act as if they ruled the (financial) world, that reinflating any bubble - any one will do at this point - is the key to economic prosperity, and that the success of the bank bailouts proves they can violate the law and destroy the economy in the name of their private gain without impunity.
So, I doubt he will be able to do the difficult job of getting the American people to understand the reality that we just aren't the country we were before the disaster. Replacing him with a President who deals in the lies Dionne insists are necessary to keep the American people happy would be a real disaster.