Last week, both David Broder, The Washington Post's venerable and authoritative political voice, and Chuck Todd, NBC's new important political voice, declared President Barack Obama's honeymoon over.
Although almost every new American presidency is launched with renewed hope and optimism for both the president and the nation (Abraham Lincoln's being a conspicuous exception in 1861), a time comes when the public and the president's party begin to assess whether they made the right choice.
Are the public's expectations of the new president being met? Are the many promises that every candidate for president makes -- and his apparent personal attributes -- hanging together and beginning to form a potentially coherent and successful administration of governme
It is a commonplace of Washington politics that it is not news when the other party attacks, but it is noteworthy when there is opposition within a president's own party.
Last week, on two of his three major domestic legislative initiatives -- health policy and financial re-regulation -- strong Democratic Party congressional doubts (and, on some important details, opposition) emerged.
Abroad, the extraordinary and heroic rising of the Iranian people and the predictable but deeply disconcerting nuclear provocation of the North Korean regime are beginning the process of coloring in the public picture of the president's foreign-policy methods and effectiveness. Last week, public expectations and early presidential performance began to separate a little.
I don't think the Obama team would contradict me if I suggested that at the heart of Mr. Obama's winning campaign was his image as a progressive, idealistic, highly intelligent and masterfully competent man. Hopes for a "post-racial" society also motivated votes for Obama from both Democrats and Republicans. These images were projected by the campaign to contrast (in the campaign's view) with the then-incumbent Republican president.
In the weeks leading up to last week, the president disappointed many of his most intense supporters on the left by backpedaling on war-, civil liberties- and transparency-related issues, while Republican opposition increased as he made his first Supreme Court nomination on an identity-politics basis and advanced his intrusive industrial and regulatory policies.
His early predictions of unemployment rates have sadly been breached by events as the interest rates on Treasury notes needed to finance the president's proposed deficits are going up steadily -- thus driving up mortgage rates and driving down housing recovery.