Barack Obama, who was hailed by the Left in 2008 as the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a four-term-winning liberal icon, is struggling to avoid becoming the second coming of one-term-and-done Jimmy Carter, and thereby hangs a tale. The tale is the Democrats’ endless quest for the next FDR — which began the day after the first one expired — and the moral is that this quest will always be hopeless. The fact is that Roosevelt — not the war leader and father of the Manhattan Project (who would be impeached by today’s Left as a war criminal), but the great and groundbreaking expander of government — cannot and will not come again.
The hope of the Left in 2008 was that he had come again, but this hope was gone by July 2010, just months after the health-care bill was passed by them with such celebration, and met by the public with so much disgust. “A big disappointment,” said Eric Alterman. Progressives were “gripped by gloom,” as Paul Waldman put it, and Michael Tomasky found “profound despair among liberals” about more than the angry reception that was given the president’s bills: “The storyline is much larger than merely that the stimulus has failed. It is that government is a failure. . . . The great bottom-line hope back in November 2008 was that Obama was going to restore trust in government and prove it could solve problems. That hasn’t happened. . . . That’s not an argument about the midterm elections. It’s about the party of government’s very raison d’etre.” “Remember when Barack Obama’s presidency was going to wash over the capital like a cleansing tide, renewing both the government’s ability to accomplish great things and restoring the people’s faith in that ability?” lamented Waldman. “It seems so much longer than a year and a half ago.”