Obama's honeymoon over - what did he accomplish?

Not too darn much, according to Michael Gerson writing in the Washington Post.

The man who had perhaps the most historic opportunity since the end of World War II to forge a new coalition that would rise above partisanship and race differences, simply blew it:

But, as Ron Brownstein argued last week on NationalJournal.com, recent polls have revealed a president "back to something like square one in his political coalition." Obama's core support remains strong. His post-election gains, however, have largely dissipated. According to Brownstein, the president "failed to convert many voters who gave him a second look after preferring John McCain last year." Obama still dominates the political landscape, but he has not changed its contours.

Obama has fallen back on the old liberal/labor/minority coalition and consequently, has alienated many who may have been willing to support him on some of his agenda.

As it is, it begs the question: What has he accomplished?

Honeymoons always end. But it is fair to ask: What did Obama use this initial period of unique standing and influence to achieve? It will seem strange to history, and probably, eventually, to Obama himself, that the president's main expenditure of political capital and largest legislative achievement was a $787 billion stimulus package he did not design and that ended up complicating the rest of his policy agenda. Such a pleasant honeymoon -- yet all we got was this lousy stimulus bill.

President Obama staked the initial reputation of his administration on the wisdom, restraint and economic innovation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic congressional leadership. It was a mistake. The legislation they produced plugged the fiscal holes in state budgets and Medicaid, and it indulged eight years of pent-up Democratic spending demands on priorities from education to child care to Amtrak. The package did little to promote investment, job creation or economic growth. By one estimate, about 12 cents of every dollar spent was devoted to genuine economic stimulus. While Obama himself remains popular, support for his largest legislative achievement now stands at 34 percent.

It figures then that once the failure of the stim bill became apparent, people became a lot less likely to support his health care monstrosity. In fact, he is repeating the mistake he made with the stim bill by allowing Congress to write it with little or no leadership demonstrated by the president. "The mind of Obama" that Democrats are always citing in trying to glean what the president wants out of health care simply isn't there.

With every advantage in the world - popularity, a fawning media, huge majorities in congress - Barack Obama is seen as a failure by more people at this point in his presidency than saw George Bush a failure. It's not just the end of a honeymoon. For many, it is the end of the myth of a post-partisan, post-racial presidency.

And that will probably doom him in 2012.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky



Not too darn much, according to Michael Gerson writing in the Washington Post.

The man who had perhaps the most historic opportunity since the end of World War II to forge a new coalition that would rise above partisanship and race differences, simply blew it:

But, as Ron Brownstein argued last week on NationalJournal.com, recent polls have revealed a president "back to something like square one in his political coalition." Obama's core support remains strong. His post-election gains, however, have largely dissipated. According to Brownstein, the president "failed to convert many voters who gave him a second look after preferring John McCain last year." Obama still dominates the political landscape, but he has not changed its contours.

Obama has fallen back on the old liberal/labor/minority coalition and consequently, has alienated many who may have been willing to support him on some of his agenda.

As it is, it begs the question: What has he accomplished?

Honeymoons always end. But it is fair to ask: What did Obama use this initial period of unique standing and influence to achieve? It will seem strange to history, and probably, eventually, to Obama himself, that the president's main expenditure of political capital and largest legislative achievement was a $787 billion stimulus package he did not design and that ended up complicating the rest of his policy agenda. Such a pleasant honeymoon -- yet all we got was this lousy stimulus bill.

President Obama staked the initial reputation of his administration on the wisdom, restraint and economic innovation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic congressional leadership. It was a mistake. The legislation they produced plugged the fiscal holes in state budgets and Medicaid, and it indulged eight years of pent-up Democratic spending demands on priorities from education to child care to Amtrak. The package did little to promote investment, job creation or economic growth. By one estimate, about 12 cents of every dollar spent was devoted to genuine economic stimulus. While Obama himself remains popular, support for his largest legislative achievement now stands at 34 percent.

It figures then that once the failure of the stim bill became apparent, people became a lot less likely to support his health care monstrosity. In fact, he is repeating the mistake he made with the stim bill by allowing Congress to write it with little or no leadership demonstrated by the president. "The mind of Obama" that Democrats are always citing in trying to glean what the president wants out of health care simply isn't there.

With every advantage in the world - popularity, a fawning media, huge majorities in congress - Barack Obama is seen as a failure by more people at this point in his presidency than saw George Bush a failure. It's not just the end of a honeymoon. For many, it is the end of the myth of a post-partisan, post-racial presidency.

And that will probably doom him in 2012.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky