Denial, arrogance and self-pity are ingredients for a pretty toxic cocktail. And yet it seems that the occupants of the White House bunker, shell-shocked by Scott Brown, are coping by mixing all three with a little Kool-Aid.
In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, the president offered his nuanced analysis of the Bay State Gotterdammerung and his first year in office.
In short: I did nothing wrong.
Well, with one caveat: "One thing I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people. . . . I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on the, you know, this provision, or that law, or are we making a good, rational decision here, that people will get it."
Cue the record-scratch sound effect!
Look, Fidel Castro can get away with saying something like that. He's been cloistered away on life support, unable to give his epic speeches to rent-a-crowds. But Obama? Barack Obama?
In his first year as president, Obama has broken all records for talking directly to the American people. According to CBS News, he has delivered 411 public "speeches, comments and remarks" and 158 interviews — more than one public statement per day and roughly an interview every other day.
The supposedly aloof Obama already personalizes things more than a host on "The View." Every address is so laden with "me," "myself" and "I," you'd think he was trying to fix the economy with a massive stimulus of personal pronouns.
Obama is a near-permanent fixture not just of newsmagazine covers but all magazine covers, including Men's Fitness and American Dog — which, admittedly, he shared with a three-legged pooch named Baby. He's schmoozed with Oprah and given plenty of in-depth interviews on "60 Minutes."
This week the president will give his first State of the Union address. If that seems strange, it's because it will be his third nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress.
The only way the White House communications shop could cram more Obama down our throats would be if it required, as part of the health care bill, that we have Obama-message receivers installed in our fillings.
The arrogance runs deeper. Over and over, Obama says he's gotten all of the policies exactly right. Whenever Stephanopoulos asked him whether he did anything wrong, Obama responded that he had no choice but to tackle the "big problems."
"Now, I could have said, well, we'll just do what's safe. We'll just take on those things that are completely noncontroversial."
What nobility! What courage! What a crock.
The question isn't, "Do you regret tackling these issues?" The question is, "Do you regret how you tackled these issues?" According to Obama, there was no other way than his way. And these ungrateful, confused, angry voters just don't understand that.
That is, if they're really mad at him at all. Obama whines that Massachusetts voters are really blaming him for someone else's mistakes. Guess who?
George Bush, of course.
"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry, and they're frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs tried to shovel the same stuff, saying that the "anger and the frustration" that swept Brown to victory on swept Obama to power a year ago.
Except, wait a second. Obama was carried into office on the wings of the flying unicorns called "hope" and "change," not "anger" and "frustration." Besides, if voters are frustrated with the slow pace of reform, why did they just elect a guy promising to slow down Obama's agenda?
Not only is the White House in denial that giving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid control of domestic and economic policy wasn't what voters wanted in 2008, they're in denial that it isn't what voters want in 2010. Instead, the White House is going to play the populist card, attacking the banks they bailed out and the insurance companies they struck sweetheart deals with. The president who mocked Brown's truck — made by GM, a company Obama actually owns — is now going to grab a pitchfork and join the mob at the White House gates.
I don't know how they'll do it, but one thing's for sure: We'll get even more Obama.