Jimmy Carter was a one-term president because he never acquired the dimension of sophistication required to navigate the shark-infested Beltway hallways.
Then again, it was hard for him to act sophisticated while his brother Billy was eating peanuts and drinking beer (in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve done both a few times at The Peanut Bar over the years).
Barack Obama has been compared to Jimmy Carter. But the current president emphatically is disproving the analogy.
Unlike Carter, Obama no longer is playing rehashed chords. During his first two years in the White House Obama’s team of D.C. outsiders tried to make up with energy for what it lacked in wisdom and polish. Eventually, however, enthusiasm burns down to everyday ash.
While Carter never widened his circle beyond his “Georgians” entourage, Obama dramatically has changed posses. Perhaps you can make a rooster bark after all.
Obama has dispatched David Axelrod and his original White House gang back to Chicago to run his reelection campaign and has retooled his administration to play hardball in the D.C. League, as Howard Fineman cleverly puts it.
The White House now is run run by a Chicagoan-cum-Washingtonian — Bill Daley — and a cadre of the best and the brightest who stood fast with Bill Clinton in the trenches.
In so doing, Obama has morphed from outsider to insider, surrounding himself with the elite troops necessary to do political battle with the crusading Tea Partiers and Republican kneecappers (another great Fineman phrase).
An incumbent president who is an adaptable survivor can be difficult to unseat because he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep his butt glued to the chair.