WASHINGTON - For concision and precision in describing Barack Obama's suddenly ambivalent relationship with his singular - actually, his single - achievement, the laurels go to Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.
After Obama's semi-demi-apology for millions of canceled insurance policies - an intended and predictable consequence of his crusade to liberate Americans from their childish choices of "substandard" policies sold by "bad apple" insurers - Scalise said:
Obama is like someone who burns down your house. Then shows up with an empty water bucket. Then lectures you about how defective the house was.
What is now inexplicably called Obama's "fix" for the chaos he has created is surreal. He gives you permission to reoccupy your house - if you can get someone to rebuild it - but for only another year.
At least he has banished boredom from millions of lives. Although probably not from his.
The place to begin understanding the unraveling of his presidency is page 274 of "The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama." The author, David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, quotes Valerie Jarrett, perhaps Obama's closest and longest-serving adviser, on her hero's amazingness:
"He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . He's been bored to death his whole life. He's just too talented to do what ordinary people do. He would never be satisfied with what ordinary people do."
Leave aside the question of whether someone so smitten can be in any meaningful sense an adviser - about what can such a paragon as Obama need advice? (Although he did recently say, "What we're also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy." Just to buy.)
It is, however, fair to note that what ordinary people ordinarily do is their jobs, competently. Obama's inability to be satisfied with anything so banal has plunged him into Jimmy Carter territory.
Carter's presidency crumbled when people decided they still liked his character but had no confidence in his competence. Obamacare's misadventures, and Obama's response to them, have caused people to doubt both his character and his competence.
The White House, disoriented by adoration - including the self-adoration - of its principal occupant, sits in a city that has become addicted to its own adrenaline. It is in a perpetual swivet stoked by media for which every inter-institutional dust-up is a crisis.