A lot of today's whining and fretting is the normal stuff of politics. The polls are ugly, members of Congress up for re-election in 2012 are nervous, and activists are frustrated. But Obama also set himself up for today's dissatisfaction by his choice of campaign platform in 2008.
"He ran on hope, and hope is really attractive and appealing, but it's not very concrete," the strategist says. "So what it meant to everyone was slightly different."
Democrats who wanted to see their personal agendas enacted were inevitably disappointed.
But look at what they got. It's not just historic measures like Obamacare, financial regulation and the stimulus. Obama has presided over lots of other accomplishments, big and small, that should warm the hearts of liberal Democrats. He has used his regulatory powers to shore up the nation's fading unions; could organized labor have a better friend than the man whose appointees are trying to stop Boeing from building a non-union plant in South Carolina? He pushed repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" through Congress. He nominated and won confirmation of two solidly liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act aimed at guaranteeing women equal pay.
This is a serious question: If you're a Democrat, what's not to like? What kind of unreasonable standard would make a Democrat unhappy with a president who accomplished those things? And yet many Democrats are beside themselves with frustration and anxiety.
Obviously, the economy is the source of much of that unhappiness. If it doesn't improve, Obama's re-election prospects are dim. But in 2 1/2 years in office, Obama has dealt with the economic downturn in precisely the way most conventional Democrats would have dealt with it. He didn't come up with the stimulus on his own. Just the opposite: He went along as Hill Democrats packed the bill with wish-list spending. And now people who larded up the stimulus with their own pet projects are unhappy with Obama for doing what they wanted? And critical of his new stimulus proposal? It doesn't make sense.
Yes, Obama is in trouble. But look at what he's done for Democrats. Shouldn't they think twice before bashing him?