From my column today:
On his own terms, President Obama is a failure.
During the presidential campaign, he fought hammer and tongs with Hillary Clinton over the best way to govern. Clinton, casting herself as a battle-scarred political veteran, argued that diligence, dedicated detail work, and working the system were essential for success.
Obama, donning the mantle of a redeemer descending from divine heights, argued that his soaring rhetoric was more than “just words”; it was a way out of the poisonous, partisan gridlock of yesteryear. Early on, in New Hampshire, he proclaimed that his “rival in this race is not other candidates. It’s cynicism.”
Occasionally the Obama-Clinton argument was explicit (such as when they sparred over who was more important to the Civil Rights Act — Martin Luther King Jr. or Lyndon Johnson), but it was always there, implicit in everything from their body language and stagecraft to position papers and platforms.
The great irony of it all is that it seems they were both wrong.
Obama’s rhetoric in fact looks to be the best way to achieve a Clintonian agenda. But a Clintonian agenda is the worst possible way to live up to Obama’s rhetoric.