Ernest F. Hollings served decades in the U.S. Senate from South Carolina, and he was one of those who were in Washington during a time when politicians from both parties were still willing to step across the aisle and compromise. That seems long ago. But Hollings, despite decades in Washington, never lost his penchant for picturing himself as an outsider. In speeches to Rotary clubs and other organizations across the Palmetto State, he railed against “those boys up in Washington,” as if he had never stepped foot in the nation’s capital.
He was perhaps the ultimate “insider-outsider” -- until President Obama and his recent tour of the Midwest. Speaking in Illinois last week, Obama told voters about “sending a message to Washington,” as if he isn’t part of the scene there. Of course the president is facing his own re-election campaign, and he’s doing everything he can to picture himself as remaining above the gridlock that’s paralyzing the government.
There’s no way a president can legitimately picture himself as an outsider; in fact, the notion is ludicrous. That doesn’t seem to be stopping the president, however. Whether voters buy it will be made manifest next November.