Republicans, who were prepared to give Obama the benefit of the doubt a year ago, now can’t stand him. Independents who voted for him are deserting in droves. And Democrats don’t seem that happy either.
The good news for Obama is that he doesn’t have to run for re-election for three more years, so he still has a chance to get his feet under him. But for Congress members facing elections in a year — including but not limited to the famous “blue-dog” Democrats — the lesson of this week is that Obama can’t save their seats if the public is unhappy (and, equally, that Obama probably can’t hurt them much, either). So what Obama wants is nice, but it’s what the voters in their districts want that will control.
That makes Obama’s health-care “reform” package look iffy and his other big plans for remaking America look even iffier. With the hope having faded, enthusiasm for change seems much diminished. From a mythic figure, Obama has shrunk to an ordinary politician — and, so far, not an obviously deft one. It’ll be politics as usual from now on, and we can thank Obama, at least, for making politics-as-usual seem not so bad after all.