Obama’s Rolling Stone Interview Proves He's Out of Touch

Gone are the days of “Yes We Can.” It’s “You Better Not.”

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Have you seen the interview with President Obama in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine? In it, President Obama proves why he’s one of the most polarizing figures in politics today, and how deep his disconnect is with voters. 

For example, rather than trying to woo members of the Tea Party movement heading into the midterms, he says that “their anger is misdirected” and claims they are funded by “some very traditional, very powerful, special interest lobbies,” implying that they are confused and manipulated--rather than taxpayers with valid concerns about spending. Asked about Fox News, he points out that although he swore to uphold the Constitution’s provision for a free press, that Fox News is “ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.” Does he realize how many middle class voters watch Fox News?

[See an Opinion slide show of 7 ways Obama can become “one of us.”]

Here’s the beginning of a long answer on how he thinks the left views him:

When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, “Guys, wake up here.”

... I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars. In the midst of all that, I ended one of those wars, at least in terms of combat operations. We passed historic healthcare legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don't even notice. We wrestled away billions of dollars of profit that were going to the banks and middlemen through the student-loan program, and now we have tens of billions of dollars that are going directly to students to help them pay for college. We expanded national service more than we ever have before ...

This answer goes on and on, listing all his accomplishments, including “reinvigorating” the Middle East peace process, “resetting” relations with Russia, and “changing world opinion” on human rights. He later goes on to give long answers about financial regulation, the war in Afghanistan, and climate change, with a shorter mention of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He calls his “the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.” 

Really not much straight discussion about the economy or jobs or reining in the deficit, except to hit Republicans for gridlock and tax cuts for “the wealthiest Americans.” No mention of independent voters.

[ See a roundup of editorial cartoons about Barack Obama.]

What is most startling is how the interview ends--the president, “repeatedly stabbing the air with his finger,” calls Democrats who sit out the midterms “inexcusable” and “irresponsible.” “People need to buck up” and “stop sitting on their hands,” he says to his supporters. Continuing on this theme later this week, he told a crowd at a Democratic campaign event to “stop sulking.” Gone are the days of “Yes We Can.” It’s become “You Better Not.” In other words, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Meanwhile, the jobs numbers are out today showing unemployment stuck at 9.6 percent, and the Labor Department this week announced that middle class spending had its steepest one-year drop since records began. Taxes and healthcare costs are rising and incomes are not, so families are spending less on clothing and restaurant meals. Middle  class Americans are cutting discretionary spending left and right, trying to make ends meet, while jobs keep disappearing--and our president continues his march to the left leading “the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.” 

How could a man who was such a galvanizing figure for many Americans two years ago have become this out of touch?