President Obama has pulled off an astounding feat less than two years into his presidency. His political base, made up of liberals, progressives and independents, is no longer blindly loyal but, in fact, has become very disillusioned. It is apparent that the president and many of his supporters are simply not on the same page. On issue after issue his base and he are drifting further and further apart; a mounting problem for his presidency.
Many staunch Obama supporters are barely hanging on and are very displeased with his apparent shift to center-right. Too many of his "achievements" seem to benefit the interests of the Washington Establishment. This is not the same Barack Obama who inspired them during his campaign. They see him as too willing to set aside his principles and settle for far less than what the people of America need and deserve.
In case you haven't noticed, President Obama is slipping badly in the latest polls; a recent Quinnipiac poll indicates that a GOP candidate would defeat him 39% to 36%. Polls can be misleading at times and subject to error, but this one from a respected source should be quite alarming for the Democratic Party. And it's certainly a very bad sign when some fellow Democrats running for reelection would rather that he did not campaign for them. Wow!
How did he manage to alienate so much of his base in so little time? Here is my best assessment of what has happened. These disillusioned supporters were looking for a real visionary, someone who would stand up for what is right, a president who would go up against the Establishment, including the military, and not back down. They got nothing of the sort.
Take the issue of health care reform, a critical need for millions of Americans. The legislation does some good things such as doing away with pre-existing conditions, but it completely failed to address the most critical elements of reform, i.e., controlling costs and eliminating the monopoly control of the giants of the insurance industry. Mr. Obama totally rejected the single payer option and then, when he had the perfect opportunity, he failed to fight for or demand that a public option be included. He settled for half a loaf, gave the insurance companies 30 million more guaranteed customers and let them remain in control of costs.
While health care reform is very important for America, Obama made a serious mistake when he made that his #1 priority rather than concentrating on restoring our troubled economy and job creation. The Stimulus program, cash for clunkers, and the badly managed bailouts of the Wall Street robber barons obviously helped. But these measures were simply band aids on a badly hemorrhaging wound.
The area that I find quite indefensible is the lack of commitment and intensity that Mr. Obama and his advisers have given to critical issues such as foreclosures or job creation; their performance has been abysmal. They talk about helping homeowners and the unemployed but there has been a distinct lack of urgency and creativity to solve these problems; no effective programs to attack the foreclosures, no aggressive programs to rebuild our manufacturing industry.
One reason for a lack of drive and intensity may be that the almost all of his cabinet members and close advisers are Washington insiders or have Wall Street connections. He failed to select even one of the many, highly respected, and very qualified outsiders; that tells us a lot about his management style. It's the path of least resistance.
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