The President's Real Problem

Posted: May 17, 2012 7:54 AM
The Atlantic's Clive Crook has a theory about why the President is losing, as he puts it.

Obama's big problem, I think, is that he is no longer the president he said he would be. Above all, he's stopped trying to be that president.

The astonishing enthusiasm for Obama in 2008 rested heavily on his promise to change Washington and unify the country. . . .For whatever reason, Obama failed to bring the change he promised. That would be forgivable, so long as he was determined to keep trying. But he isn't determined to keep trying. 

To some degree, Crook is right.  Every time the President comes out with another nasty partisan broadside, he degrades his own brand and cuts out the heart of his original appeal -- as the nice guy who insisted there were no red states, no blue states.

But there are two reasons the President hasn't kept "trying." First, that's not who he is. As I've pointed out before, President Obama has come up only in safe liberal enclaves, where everyone agrees with him . . . and many surrounding him even seem to think he's God.  That doesn't foster the kind of humility required for genuine outreach and compromise.

Second, his presidency has been such an abject failure by any objective measure that, in order to have any hope of winning, he's got to rally his base before he can reach to the center.   Honeyed words and sweet compromise aren't going to satisfy the deep-seated needs of the angry Occupy set and the bitter KosKidz, who tend to attribute Obama's problems to (ha!) insufficient leftism.