When Barack Obama took over, the one thing we were assured of was that the adults were back in charge. The media hated George W. Bush and lampooned his speech or his malapropisms. With Obama, we got the steady, academic hand that came from …
OK, it came from nowhere. Obama had almost no political experience. He hadn't done much outside of politics. He was a blank slate and the left wrote one word on it: 'win.'
And that worked. Still, the adults-only theme has been typical. Lefty media maven and Time magazine contributor Ana Marie Cox said on the 'The Rachel Maddow Show' soon after the election that 'those familiar faces behind' Obama delivered on the 'idea that there are going to be some grown-ups in charge.'
We've seen incident after incident of Obama's prickly, juvenile behavior. He gets mad at the right. He crusades against business while asking them to hire people. He gets mad at any media that dare criticize him. And he gets mad at the 'professional' left. Heck, he even had a mini tantrum bashing both left and right after trying to work out a tax deal.
After pouting for nearly two years, Obama finally took his ball and went home right in the middle of a press conference. He was replaced by the only slightly more mature former President Bill Clinton and America breathed a collective sigh of relief. Dan Harris of 'Good Morning America' was thrilled: 'That was an awesome bit of political theater. An amazing atmosphere in the room, I have to imagine.'
ABC's David Kerley said it was 'a little bit of déjà vu,' with Clinton in the 'the form that he showed in that White House briefing room when he was president.' Thankfully, it wasn't also the form he showed in the Oval Office or we'd have to place Secret Service guards around the interns.
But seeing folksy and charming Bill Clinton wow another press gaggle was a reminder of how far we've fallen. This is one of the grown-ups?
America grades on a huge curve.
We all know more than we want to about the maturity of the hormonally challenged Bill Clinton. Given the dog-like ways of the Big Dog, figure he's in his teens emotionally. Not exactly the guy you want running a country, but more than capable of handling an under-age kegger.
Then there's Obama - wildly confident, but like that awkward, gawky teen no one ever gets close to. Yes he can play basketball (injuries happen), so he's not a total nerd. But he's so lacking in bowling skill he should almost be rolling the ball between his legs.
Despite some of the stupid things he's done, he's obviously intelligent. But his bookishness makes him act like the smartest kid in the room - even when there's little evidence of that. Combine that with a hefty dose of narcissism and you get a typical adolescent personality.
In short, he acts even less mature than Bill Clinton.
There's no doubt the American public is clamoring for adult leadership. In August, House Republican leader John Boehner said Obama needed a new economic team and that 'it's time to put grown-ups in charge.' He may or may not be right.. Look at how we turn for political commentary to some of the sharpest minds of the day, like Joy Behar, Kanye West and Bill Maher.
Maybe we just want a slightly older child to lead us. That might be all we have to choose from anyway.
And what of George W. Bush, so often bashed by the media for a frat-boy past and for sophomoric gaffes. A recent viral video summed some of those missteps that had Bush saying silly things and unable to open a door to escape after a speech.
When Bush knew he had flubbed or stood stuck a door that wouldn't budget, he showed self-deprecating humor and a good-natured willingness to laugh - even at himself. Not the only measure of maturity, but not a bad start either.
Back in early 2001, columnist George Will wrote that the arrival of Team Bush meant: 'The revival of government by grown-ups continues. Now that we've seen the people on either side of Bush, maybe he was correct.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.