The GOP's Best Friend

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Feb 13, 2010 12:48 PM
Commentator Steven Thomma remarks that Obama's opportunity to be a "transformative" president in the mold of Roosevelt or Reagan is fading fast.

He offers a number of reasons why the President's first-year agenda fell short, relying heavily on the assertion that the recession forced the President to devote time and energy to matters other than "big" things like health care (and notes that he mismanaged the health care process, as well).

But nowhere does Thomma hit at the real source of Obama's problem.  The real issue for the President is that he made a faustian bargain -- allowing himself (in his own words) to "serve as a blank screen" on which people's own hopes and dreams could be projected.  Throughout the campaign, he struck to happy generalities about unity and bipartisanship and hope and change (no wonder he was portrayed by Jib Jab as riding a unicorn amidst rainbows).  He did it because he knew it was the only way to win.  And the press let him get away with it.

No doubt, he'd have never become President if he'd announced that he was going to triple the national debt and promote a big-government takeover of health care, secured by a series of corrupt kickbacks.  But as soon as he took office, that's what he did.  He bet that he had the silver-tongued oratory to popularize even previously unpopular initiatives, and that economic conditions were going to frighten people into embracing Big Government. 

He was wrong.  And now, understandably, people who had been projecting their own hopes and dreams onto Obama -- from the left, right, and middle -- have been disappointed.  And are very, very angry.  Include among them most of the Democrat caucus. 

Now, those on the right and in the center see him as a left-wing naif.  Those on the left see him as an incompetent. 

Obama has been the Republicans' best friend.