To his credit, Jimmy Carter gave only one malaise speech (I realize he didn’t actually use that word!). President Obama seems to be giving malaise speeches at the rate of several a week. All the president needed today to complete the picture of a man in over his head was Jimmy Carter’s old cardigan. 

“Even with an extra 50 minutes to think, the president still couldn’t come up with something new to say,” Hot Air noted of today’s bedraggled effort. Several commentators have said that the president’s showing up late for his own show spooked Wall Street. One of the reasons the president was speaking, apparently, was to give the markets some confidence.

That he did not do. He not only failed to calm the market but perhaps contributed to today’s historic sell-off. It was down around 430 points at 1 o’clock, when the president was supposed to start speaking, and fell during and after his brief remarks, ending the day with a loss of 634 points, closing at 10,822.

Jennifer Rubin summarizes the pathetic speech:  

Obama had all weekend and the best he could come up with was a reiteration of his plea for a “balanced” approach to deficit control. That’s right. We have a tumbling stock market, over 9 percent unemployment and a flight to gold (some investment advisers say it will be at $2,500 per ounce by year’s end). All he can do is promise to raise taxes.

Now that’s not exactly right. He did trot our proposals for a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut and extension of unemployment benefits. And he promised to make his own proposal to the debt committee. That’s it. It is what he has been saying for what seems like forever. He has nothing new.

He did say one indisputably true thing: The downgrade was more a comment on our political dysfunction than on our ability to repay our debts. That is the dysfunction that he has presided over. That is the paralysis he perpetuated by insisting for months on tax increases. He was describing his own disastrous tenure as president.

This illuminated Obama’s predicament – devoid of ideas, bitter about political opposition and completely in over his head.

We live in a country in deep financial trouble and the man in charge doesn’t understand the root of the problem and, even if he did, is too ideologically driven to alter his course and do something that really would improve the economy.

Even the left is beginning to feel Obama let them down. They’re just now noticing such things as the young state senator’s propensity to vote present (as opposed to yes or no) and that, before he became president,  the lad had a spotty work history (as, indeed, more and more Americans will have, if the unemployment rate doesn’t go down soon).

But for my money the best analysis of Barack Obama as we know him now is Victor Davis Hanson’s “The Crashing Chariot of Our Young Phaeton:”

Suddenly there are all sorts of expressions of worry and angst among the Left concerning President Obama’s leadership style and effectiveness – from not being on top of the facts and a sort of listless distracted style, to his serial canned sermons and lack of fire in the belly on issues of concern. These are legitimate worries, inasmuch as the Left assumed that Obama was a once-in-a-lifetime dream candidate who could force a progressive agenda upon a reluctant and largely conservative populace, given his charisma, youth, post-racial profile, landmark candidacy, and teleprompted eloquence. But when an inexperienced Phaethon takes over the reins, his out-of-control steeds can scorch far more than himself….

In truth, Obama naturally assumed that he would be a sort of gilded public megaphone for progressive causes, just as he had when he voted present habitually in the Illinois legislature, did little in the Senate, and had an unimpressive record as a community organizer. As president, I think he thought the job was mostly reminding Americans that “Bush did it,” giving soaring “this is the moment,” “hope and change” speeches, assuring the fainting of the audience that medical help was standing by, adding in the requisite emphases (“make no mistake about,” “let’s be honest about,” “let me be perfectly clear”), while outsourcing solutions to left-leaning technocrats from government and academia. The ceremonial aspects and rhetorical duties of the office are more what interested him; not the mundane political horse-trading and attention to policy detail, much less the thankless and stressful job of hitting the stump to make the case for statism – in a climate in which the EU, blue-state America, and his former economic advisers offer little support for such a cause….

One other criticism: The president should have begun not with the country’s financial situation, as dire as it is, but with the deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan. It was also interesting that the president praised them for being unified even though they came from different places. I’s sure this is the case. But the president seemed to want to turn this sad occasion into a chance to pump for one of his hobbyhorses, diversity, when all he needed to do was praise the men for their valor and thank them for dying for us.