When President Obama took office, the idealistic "Yes We Can" and
"change" rhetoric of the campaign gave way to a far more pragmatic and
centerist idea: "getting it done."
To counter their outsider image, he recalibrated his image to reassure insiders -- bankers, generals and senior members of Congress. He reassured one and all, with middle-of-the-road appointments and revised rhetoric that said plainly they were in business to do business -- to make whatever deals and compromises were required to "get it done."
If that meant letting the health-care companies and their loyal political supplicants shape the reform he had promised, so be it.
If that meant showing the Pentagon that he was willing to kill bad guys with more bloodlust than theirs, he would do it with surges, drones and Seal Team 6 assassins.
Peace? Forget it.
Speechifying in Cairo made the headlines, but follow-up was rarely to be seen.
Ameliorating climate change? Yes, but not now or -- shh -- ever. What's a little smog among friends?
Interests, not issues, drive policy. And those interests are always defined by the self-interested.
Wars are moneymakers for contractors and companies, even as they drive up national debt. Label it "national security," and the critics go silent.
Wall Street was now represented by faithful alumni like Tim Geither and Larry Summers. Bush's Pentagon chief was back in the saddle.
So, as Mr Obama became Mr President, an army of
insiders were soon advising on how to "get it done" by placating this
one, or benefiting that one.
How psychologically satisfying it must be to be cheered by people who took you at your word! They don't realize that the pretensions of office and political appearances always trump changes that could make enemies or take risks.
Even though he had been in the Senate for under four years, Obama fancied himself an expert on using charm, charisma and contracts to move a political process that was not only stalemated but also stuck.
This self-styled outsider soon shed one persona for another to become the consummate insider.