The results of off-year elections seem to bear out that hope. On 3 November last year, Bob McDonnell, a Republican, was elected governor of Virginia; on 19 January, a Republican who describes himself as independent, Scott Brown, won Ted Kennedy’s senate seat in Massachusetts. The scale of these victories made them particularly ominous. McDonnell took 59 per cent of the votes and Brown 52 per cent, in states where Obama a year earlier had pulled 53 per cent and 62 per cent respectively. Interviews suggested that these contests were interpreted by voters above all as referendums on the Obama presidency.
What about the climate, though?
...I wish Obama had acted more boldly, and think he could have done so. The large majority who admired him a month into his taking office included people disgusted by two wars, by the Cheney-Bush encroachment on civil liberties, and by the scale of the support being requested from taxpayers for the banks and brokerage houses. The war party and the ‘banksters’, as they are now called, were discredited; the time was ripe for a change and Obama had run with the idea that he would be its executor. It was a moment in foreign policy to pull back from militarism, and in domestic policy to create jobs and reroute the economy without following the advice of those who had ruined it. There were opportunities for reform of a sort that comes less often than once in a generation. Yet Obama acted on the assumption that the establishment is one and irreplaceable, and must be served in roughly its present form.
Obama’s calculations, then, are plausible and may pay off; yet he has made mistakes nobody would have predicted. The truth is that he did not come into office a fully equipped politician. He was new to the national elite and enjoyed his membership palpably. This came out in debates and town meetings where he often mentioned that the profits from his books had lodged him in the highest tax bracket. It would emerge later in his comment on Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan: ‘I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen.’ One can’t imagine Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy saying such a thing, or wanting to say it. They had known ‘those guys’ all their lives and felt no tingle of reflected glory. Obama has not yet recognised that his conspicuous relish of his place among the elite does him two kinds of harm: it spurs resentment in people lower down the ladder; and it diminishes his stature among the grandees by showing that he needs them.
I didn't take that away from that exchange at all. I thought that was actually a fairly pivotal moment -- it was a key moment in the health care summit in February that helped turn things in the bill's favor. The author of this essay also chides Obama for being too cautious and plodding. This moment was neither of those things. Besides, McCain has always looked small and confused for at least the past 5 years.
Few members of the elite class are openly disdainful of the elite class. Franklin Roosevelt could be an exception, as this author says, but he was in a far different time and circumstance. Expecting Obama to aspire to be FDR is absurd.
But Obama sees himself as a political Kantian, ruling within the Categorical Imperative ("Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."). I don't mean that his policies follow the Categorical Imperative, but his politics: he believes that there is an ideal way for politicians to behave, and that's how he behaves. Obama seems to believe that he ought to make decisions not based on the current political climate or circumstances, but what is "objectively" the correct decision for American life.
"After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can’t drive! We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.
You would have thought at a time of historic crisis that Republican leaders would have been more willing to help us find a way out of this mess," Obama added. "Particularly since they created the mess."
One thing that I never understood is why the Democrats don't just try to pass a series of small bills that would be politically popular, but Republicans would oppose. Especially since it seems like they are bound to oppose just about anything. It seems like this would allow you to build up some momentum in the popular opinion of your party, while keeping the unpopular opinions of the other party in front of the people.
So, being honest about your financial situation is actually rubbing it in our faces? Does the President of the United fucking States really need to gloat about his wealth and success to the rest of America? This criticism is too wide-ranged and unfocused.
I think you may be confusing "Democrats" with "progressives".
The Dems haven't been progressive since Clinton redefined compromise as pandering to corporate money while appeasing liberal voters. Obama is the pinnacle of a party that has come to pursue lose-lose compromises as wins. One more "victory" like the health care act and we are lost.
Love or hate Mr. Obama, it's hard not to concede that he hasn't shown any leadership - leading means being ahead of your "followers", leading them in new directions that they might not have expected or even wanted, not continuing the almost exact path of your predecessors.
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