A little over two months into the new Obama Administration, and it would appear that many of the President’s most ardent fans are adopting the mantra I have been chanting all along: “Barack Obama is not the Messiah. He is just another politician.”
To wit, here is the Economist, expressing alarm:
. . . at home Mr Obama has had a difficult start. His performance has been weaker than those who endorsed his candidacy, including this newspaper, had hoped. Many of his strongest supporters—liberal columnists, prominent donors, Democratic Party stalwarts—have started to question him. As for those not so beholden, polls show that independent voters again prefer Republicans to Democrats, a startling reversal of fortune in just a few weeks. Mr Obama’s once-celestial approval ratings are about where George Bush’s were at this stage in his awful presidency. Despite his resounding electoral victory, his solid majorities in both chambers of Congress and the obvious goodwill of the bulk of the electorate, Mr Obama has seemed curiously feeble.
The article points out that even if one accepts the need for a large stimulus package–I do not, but put that to the side for the moment–the President botched the stimulus by allowing Congress to get its fingerprints all over it. At long last, people are also beginning to notice that its boasts to the contrary notwithstanding–especially in the aftermath of the Palin nomination–Team Obama does a terrible job of vetting its nominees. For all of the talk of bipartisanship, the Administration has failed to reach out to Republicans, as the article notes. An effort is made through the article to be ecumenical and claim that the Republicans are also responsible for the breakdown in relations, but given the President’s boast that “[he] won,” and that as a consequence, his policy prescriptions ought to be accepted, then he bears the burden not just for coming up with policy, but with trying to ensure the greatest amount of bipartisan support for that policy as well. He has failed in that task. And as the Economist points out, that failure has consequences; the Democrats are “messing” the President around on a number of issues, including card-check. Perhaps if the President were to reach out more to Republicans, he might find the strength to mess back.
The article gives us the obligatory “Obama can still turn this around” line. To be sure, he can. But who thought that with over a month to go in the famed first 100 days, Barack Obama would find himself being compared to . . . gasp! . . . George W. Bush, in the august pages of the Economist?