The far left had early criticisms of President Obama, and now even the more mainstream Democrats are joining in: He is not tough enough. He does not fight enough. He is ineffective.
Perhaps, but he was the guy we hired.
Obama was elected on a platform to bring change to Washington ... his dream was an efficient bi-partisan government. He demonstrated that goal by coming to every issue not from a proposal of the extreme left, but a fair proposal closer to the middle. His totally-politically-motivated opponents did not see this as being fair, but being a weakness to exploit. And exploit they did.
Obama could have come to the health care debate swinging the single-payer stick. He didn't. He could have drawn a line in the sand, no debt increase without more taxes. He didn't. In each and every case the Republicans did not see this as an honest attempt to get to a middle quickly, but a weak starting point where they could apply the same old negotiate-from-the-extreme-right positions and win even more. And they did.
We elected Obama to do exactly what he is doing. We believed that somehow he could bring more unity to our nation's capitol. There was a big flaw in our belief though, a flaw that is now painfully apparent: The Republicans would simply not go for it.
We voted for with an almost blind sense of idealism, that a man who looked and acted so differently could encourage some real reforms in the politics of Washington. We understood when he sought the middle, because that is where they usually end up anyways. We appreciated the strength it took to break from the coming-from-the-extreme mold. What he promised was headily iconoclastic, where there would be less unproductive rancor and more responsible decision making. Boy were we wrong.
Right off the bat, the Republicans smelled what they thought was weakness in the air. They cemented that belief by publicly stating that their first and primary goal was to get rid of this "weak" President, the welfare of the country be damned. There are problems that have been festering for years, now they are all Obama's fault: We are still in wars overseas, companies are still not hiring, and taxes (which have not been lower since the 1950's) are too high. Not surprisingly, a faction of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, finally gained a foothold in this time of pile-on politics.
And the Republicans did not have to come up with solutions, because that too was the President's fault. It is much easier to sit in the cheap seats and take shots at the Commander-In-Chief than to make things better, in fact there is a growing perception that the goal is to make everything worse and hang that on the President as well. Actual detailed solutions are hard, and as long as the public is happy with finger-pointing nothing is getting done.
And this will not change until the 2012 election.
Unless Barack Obama does start fighting back.
President Obama, we applaud your efforts. We bought into the dream. But we have learned that you can't change the rules of the game unless both sides agree. And not only is the other team is not agreeing, they are dragging you and our well-meaning enlightenment through the mud.
And if you continue down this course, there are many of us that do not blame you. A steadfast attempt to bring some sort of reform to politics-as-usual is a noble cause, and if that is your legacy as a one-term President you could have done much worse. After all, after 50 or so years we did get some medical industry reforms, the teetering economy did not collapse, and hey, you even got Bin Laden.
But perhaps it is time to step back and look at the reality of the situation. Beating your head against the Republican wall hasn't seemed to even leave a dent. Yours is not the change they are looking for. In fact, it may have even made them stronger.
Perhaps it is time to take your intelligence and skills to the established game instead of trying to change it. Maybe it is time to treat the GOP reflexively instead of reactively. Many of us would applaud that as well.
It was a valiant effort, but maybe it is time to go back to the old ways and beat them at their own game.