OFF THE GRID

Is the President Superman, After All?

Mar 15, 10 | 8:05 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Finally, this health care stuff is getting interesting.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ assertion, on Fox News Sunday, of all deliberate places, that there will be a health-care bill passed this week is a declaration of brute political force and pure fuck you, no-accommodation certainty.

"I am absolutely confident we are going to be successful," added David Axelrod on Meet the Press, also expressing the White House’s new macho thing.

All of the calculations are transparent:

They have the votes and can do it.

Doing it, with all its attendant risks, is better than not doing it.

Having done it, clarity and success are achieved.

Clarity and success are something you can run on—better, certainly, then convulsion and disappointment.

It’s a strategy that, suddenly, has the immediate virtue of obviousness. Bold and headstrong plays better than being stuck in the morass. Outflanking your enemies is better than being pinned down by them.

So why did it take so long to get here? More wondrously, how did these guys, in the space of a few weeks, undergo such a character transformation? Where did this confidence, this bravado, this bully-boy stuff suddenly come from?

It really is an overnight thing. The Obama boys have been superior, arch, logical, process-obsessed, consensus-driven, policy-loving; the result of this world view and detail-orientation was an open-ended discussion that got them into a great deal of trouble. But in the new approach that’s all behind them. From Sunday morning forward the signal is no more Mr. Nice Guys; they’re playing for keeps now; they’re sons-of-bitches; they’re in charge.

The top-of-the-class nerd boys have taken off their glasses and bared their teeth.

It could actually work. This new muscular pose is better, clearly, than all that hand-wringing superiority of the past year.

But isn’t it just a little bit unsettling? Are they really capable of changing like this? Has this all been a careful act of the black guy trying to behave himself? All just a concerted effort at ritual and propriety?

And now, up against it, Clark Kent slips into the telephone booth?

It’s odd, frankly. Quirky. Hopeful, but, a little alarming, too, this sudden transformation.

And can they hold this new fierceness for more than just a Sunday?

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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