The Gray Lady has a piece up about Obama’s competitiveness, which many are claiming—are you sitting down?—sometimes leads to cockiness. Fine. Here’s where it gets good:
But even those loyal to Mr. Obama say that his quest for excellence can bleed into cockiness and that he tends to overestimate his capabilities. The cloistered nature of the White House amplifies those tendencies, said Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, adding that the same thing happened to his former boss. ‘There’s a reinforcing quality,’ he said, a tendency for presidents to think, I’m the best at this.
Thanks, former Bush advisor, for taking the initiative to project your boss’ faults onto his successor, but perhaps George W. Bush, the modern embodiment of hubris, is not the best control group to test the effects of the presidency on cockiness? At the very least we can (and should) distinguish between Bush’s cockiness—which was maintained even in the face of an increasingly disastrous presidency, and allowed him to be unaware of having so much as erred despite of a litany of failures—and Obama’s, which is bolstered with universal health care reform and Osama bin Laden’s scalp.
That’s giving Dowd the benefit of the doubt, in that he spoke honestly, and just mistook his boss’ arrogance as endemic to the job rather than the man. The less charitable reading is that this is of a piece with Republican efforts to blur the lines between the disaster of Bush and the clean-up job of Obama. They’ve already assigned Obama full blame for the deficit Bush created and the unemployment rate he left. And now, famously though not famously enough, Paul Ryan is attacking Obama for closing a auto plant that shut down under Bush’s watch. In this context, it seems a little odd that Matthew Dodd would be so helpful in carrying over the less pleasant aspects of George W Bush’s personality and making them Obama’s. By the time this process is over, Obama will have been the mid-90s owner of the Texas Rangers.