It’s painful to watch Obama’s popularity decline.
His presidency is being overwhelmed by brutal attacks from the right and ongoing criticism from his base. Meanwhile, swing voters - whose political sentiments are generally shaped viscerally, not intellectually - are turning off.
Republicans are behaving as expected. After all, they have a history of winning elections and governing by mocking their opponents and arousing fear and hate among the voters. We know this, though we’re always surprised at how effective right wing elected officials, thought leaders and noise makers are in adapting to changing conditions.
Progressive Democrats are also behaving as expected. Wanting bold reform and “real change”, important parts of Obama’s base have already concluded that the president has made colossal strategic and policy errors. They argue persuasively that he allowed himself to be the helpless captive of health care obstructionists.
Then there is that broad swath of swing, independent and moderate voters who seem to be drifting away from Obama. The Los Angeles Times Labor Day edition headline: “Obama is fast losing white voters’ support” was beyond depressing.
I had similar feelings fifteen years ago when “Whitewater” and “Troopergate” stories first appeared about Bill Clinton. I’m afraid that it’s getting away from us, again.
So instead of twisting our minds over what Obama could have or should have done, we should prepare for the possibility of a shift to the political center.
The conclusion in the White House may very well be that to regain electoral and policy support, reforms have to be toned down. Does this mean that:
1) The conservative loud mouths have carried the day?
2) Americans are not inclined to accept progressive change?
3) Obama didn’t have the guts and / or the smarts to pull it off?
4) We’re seeing a Clinton Administration redo?
5) We should shut up and be happy that the Republicans are not running the White House and Congress?
6) Or are they?
7) All, some or none of the above?
Figure it out and let me know.