It's happened to presidents of
But strong presidents don't let the well-known six-year blues bother them. They don't need validation; they know who they are, where they stand, and they just keep on keeping on. They have an identity, they've earned it over the years, and they're not about to bargain it away for a brief boost in the always evanescent polls.
The country doesn't need a president who's popular, just one who's right. Even if it may take the long perspective of history to prove it.
Cases in point:
Or consider the presidency of his successor, one
Ike may have been snubbed by the country's bien pensant but he remained Ike. Complete with that broad grin and the reservoir of good will he'd earned as a solider and, as it turned out, statesman. Yes, he did speak a language of his own at press conferences, a mysterious tongue of vague origin and indeterminate meaning. He had learned before that mystification has its uses, and ambiguity can be an effective policy Much like his foreign policy, his vague pronouncements ("What do you think he meant by that?") may have been just another way to keep the peace. Which he did. It took
Decades later, the country would get a president with a real gift for gab --
Whatever their differences, all those presidents had one thing in common: They never lost their interest for Americans. We the People never stopped taking noticing of them, if only to hoot at their foibles. Whether you were applauding or just being appalled, you paid attention when they spoke. No one was neutral about them.
This president is different. When he speaks these days, it's as if he were reporting the doings of an administration that only coincidentally happens to be his own. He's our bystander-in-chief, and as his tenure begins to fade, he's gone from being Mister Cool to Mister Irrelevant. Have you noticed? The sound of his voice no longer attracts, or even repels. It's just there. Like fading wallpaper, it has become just another part of the unnoticed background as it goes on and on about. ... I can't remember offhand. His press conference, the one the day after that dramatic defeat of his party in the midterms, there was nothing dramatic about what he said. I thought I listened to every word. I just can't remember a single one of them. He just went on an on about ... nothing in particular. The bully pulpit of the presidency might as well be unoccupied. Maybe it is.
What does this president say when he has nothing to say? He analyzes, he theorizes, he extemporizes, rhapsodizes and temporizes, but he still has nothing to say. At length.
("All of us have to give more Americans a reason to feel like the ground is stable beneath their feet, that the future is secure, that there is a path for young people to succeed, and that folks here in
Like so much of the American public,