The administration hasn’t been able to pull it off. From the stimulus to health care, it has joined itself at the hip to the liberal leadership in Congress. The White House has failed to veto measures, like the pork-laden omnibus spending bill, that would have demonstrated independence and fiscal restraint. By force of circumstances and by design, the president has promoted one policy after another that increases spending and centralizes power in Washington.
The result is the Obama slide, the most important feature of the current moment. The number of Americans who trust President Obama to make the right decisions has fallen by roughly 17 percentage points. Obama’s job approval is down to about 50 percent. All presidents fall from their honeymoon highs, but in the history of polling, no newly elected American president has fallen this far this fast.
And, via Dick Morris, Obama is down to 46% in the Rasmussen poll. According to Brooks, the reason why Obama is falling apart is that he’s married himself to the very liberal Democratic leadership. Brooks thinks this was a horrible tactical and strategic mistake and, he’s right! But why did he make it? Brooks ends his column with this partial explanation: “Events have pushed Barack Obama off to the left. Time to rebalance.”
Oh those horrible events! They make criminals rob liquor stores. John Edwards cheated on his cancer-stricken wife even as he was using her as a campaign issue because of “events.” Larry Craig was driven to that bathroom stall by “events.” I am overserved at open bars because those pernicious events won’t leave me alone.
Maybe, just maybe, Barack Obama wasn’t driven to the left by events but, rather, he was driving them thataway?
Brooks, it seems to me, is still holding out hope for the possibility that if we “let Obama be Obama” he’ll tack to the center because he really is that bipartisan, moderate, Niebuhr-grocking 21st century man that caused so many otherwise sensible conservatives to go off their feed.
That seems highly implausible to me. Obama has been Obama, and that’s why he’s in the predicament he’s in. He is the author of these events, not a victim of them.
Indeed, the rage from the Huffington Post et al is probably more authentic and legitimate because they had every reason to expect Obama would be even more left-wing. Where they were stupid, as Brooks rightly suggests, is in thinking that Americans would want that. And where they were naïve is in thinking that Obama had the political skill or experience to transform America without any resistance from Americans who don’t want America transformed.
But this is a difficult theory of the case for Obamacons to embrace. So instead, let us lament the horrible influence of events.