When word got out that President Obama told an interviewer he had learned from his mistakes, the grandees of the political class swarmed to the bait. Like primitive mystics "reading" the entrails of a sacrificial animal, they began dissecting his comments to divine whether the president is signaling a course change after the election.
Let me save you time and busted hopes. No, no, no -- he's not going to change. Why mess with perfection?
Obama thinks he did everything right and nothing wrong. And he remains stuck on blaming others, including voters, the media, Republicans, Washington, and impossible-to-please liberals.
In short, nearly halfway through his term, Obama still doesn't get it. He's clueless about his massive failures, which means, if he's given the chance, we can expect more of them.
The interview with The New York Times magazine for the Sunday, October 17 issue is nonetheless enlightening. Most important, it shows that Obama's public display of confidence to the point of arrogance isn't an act. He really believes his own b.s.
In his eyes, his only mistakes -- he calls them "tactical lessons" -- were limited to not paying enough attention to politics and "marketing and p.r. and public opinion."
One result is that he allowed himself to be pigeonholed as "the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat."
This is laughably preposterous for a president whose rank partisanship is already legendary and whose public eloquence is his trump card, one that has diminishing returns precisely because he overplays it.
As for tax-and-spend, his record is his record, and it is off-the-scale frightening.
Obama's self-flattery leads Times writer Peter Baker to wryly conclude, "The first refuge of any politician in trouble is that it's a communication problem, not a policy problem."
Shrinking violets don't make it to the Oval Office, of course, but Obama sees even his failures as evidence of his virtue. "We probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right," he told Baker. "There is probably a perverse pride in my administration -- and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top -- that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular."
The danger to democracy inherent in that warped view is obvious. The more the public objects to his policies, the more convinced he is that he's right. All issues are reduced to propaganda struggles.
It's a Catch-22 for voters and a self-protection racket for him. He is constantly aware, as all presidents are, of what is said and written about him. But he is incredibly thin-skinned about criticism while immune to the substantive message.
As one Democrat who knows him well told me, Obama is supremely stubborn "with his own view of the world." Whether it's the Mideast, the Ground Zero mosque, health care or the economy, he only sees what he wants to see.
He is an introvert, and is insulated even from his aides. One tells Baker that some insiders consider him "opaque" and a "closed book" who is comfortable only with his Chicago team.
"He can rouse a stadium of 80,000 people, but that audience is an impersonal monolith; smaller group settings can be harder for him," Baker writes.
He describes a bunker mindset, saying many in the administration are "shell shocked" at public fury and have concluded "the best days of the Obama presidency are behind them."
That obviously depends on how you define "best." Most Americans look back on the last two years as a nightmare, with the nation diminished abroad and at home.
The turnaround begins in 16 days.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.