Byron York

For generations, Democrats longed for a president who could enact national health care. Barack Obama did it.

For years, Democrats longed for a president who could massively increase federal spending, impose broad new regulations and fight for higher taxes. Barack Obama did it.

For much of the past decade, Democrats longed for a president who could pull American forces out of Iraq and redirect U.S. security policy toward al-Qaida. Barack Obama did it -- and killed Osama bin Laden, to boot.

Obama did all that, and more. And now many Democrats are afraid to be seen with him. Some gratitude.

Democratic grumbling about the president has reached an all-time high. On a recent conference call of party strategists, disaffected Democrats reportedly threw around words like "betrayed," "disappointed," "furious" and "disgusted," with some blaming Obama for the stunning Democratic loss in New York's 9th Congressional District. Surveying the political landscape of Democratic disaffection with the president, longtime strategist James Carville could come up with just one word of advice: "Panic!"

Meanwhile, the president's approval ratings are hitting new lows, with his job approval rating bouncing around the high 30s to the low 40s in recent Gallup polls. The numbers are even worse -- about 70 percent disapproval -- for Obama's handling of the economy. Independent voters, the key to the president's election in 2008, have abandoned him right and left.

Given all that, it's no surprise that many Democrats are running away from Obama. But here's the problem: He did what Democrats wanted him to do. Health care, stimulus, taxes, you name it -- Obama did what his party wanted. Not what the public at large wanted, but what many Democrats wanted. And now, as the negative electoral consequences of their own priorities stare them in the face, those Democrats are blaming the president.

And, by the way, the Democrats who are most unhappy with Obama are the ones who wanted him to do more of the things that have made him unpopular.

"It's ingratitude," says a Democratic strategist who asked to remain anonymous. "People are saying to (Obama), 'You didn't do everything you told me you were going to do.' If you're a member of a union, you didn't get everything you wanted. If you're an environmentalist, you didn't get everything you wanted. But the left wants to go beyond what's possible."


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner