Frank Rich wrote a progressive line that is becoming as cliche'd and hilarious as the conservative's "I am not a racist, but""
The line is: "If Obama is to have a truly transformative presidency""
The line assumes (or accepts the statement that) Obama wants to provide a transformative presidency. It's time to face the fact that he really doesn't. "Change" was his slogan, but his taste runs to slow sips of consensus-fueled incrementalism. As Rich himself points out, he has a shocking faith in the powers-that-be, and an unhealthy respect for the status quo. There is nothing transformative about him--except his skin color in contrast to the house he inhabits.
Running for the presidency with a slim resume and black skin was a bold move. We assumed it bespoke a bold temperament, but it did not. It was a bold personal move. The decision to run for President challenges no entrenched interests save those of other candidates and only in the abstract (you might prove a great challenger, or no challenge at all). Simply running for president does not diminish any group's power or purse. It is a totally personal move. Governing, on the other hand, is a public, political process in which there are numerous winners and losers earning and suffering in real time.
Obama's running represented a bold, outside-the-box political calculus. Winning was audacious, even against a seemingly developmentally challenged opponent who chose a fame whoring cretin as his running mate.
By now, however, it is obvious that Obama's personal boldness does not cross the blood/brain barrier into governance. By all indications, he simply does not (a) have a taste for upending existing preconceptions or institutions and (b) does not believe he has the right to do so even if he believes it should be done.
Bush, Reagan, Cheney and their conservative ilk govern with a zealot's belief in their own Divine rightness. It lights them from within. They impart a sense of their own leadership destiny. "God wants me in charge,' they seem to say. That's the "Daddy" aspect that glows to many like a lighthouse beacon. It animated much of the early thrall with the simplistic George W. Bush. Such men believe that their own best interests are inherently the country's. Even if they plan to represent only the top 1% of wage earners, they fervently believe that enriching that group is the right thing to do; and they will move heaven and earth to do it. (Imagine the yowls if Barack Obama likewise decided that enriching a much larger group--say, African Americans--was in the pressing national interest.) This is not politics. It is religion, and conservatives will lie, cheat, steal, and impoverish to forcefully convert us all (see 2000 election recount. See Bush tax cuts).
Obama, on the other hand, displays no such sense of noblesse oblige--no self-regard bathed in the Divine Right of Princes. He knows that he's not "supposed" to be President and therefore does not grant himself the right to impose his view on a nation. He simply can't do "Daddy." Race plays into this but it is not all. His political team (despite their insulting bullshit that race never plays into their political calculations) know that Obama will face a telegenically white, less-insane-than-McCain "Daddy" candidate come 2012 (think Romney). They dare not upset the applecart too blatantly and have their rich, establishment sponsors abandon their ironically hued White House occupant.
But that's only part of it, A recent poll showed Obama's disease to be shared among the majority of Democrats, who, unlike Republicans, want their politicians to compromise with their political opponents. Democrats, it seems, do not want transformative change.
In early 2007, right after Democrats had retaken Congress, Pew found (PDF, page 16) that self-identified Democrats preferred politicians who compromised, while self-identified Republicans preferred politicians who stood by their beliefs:
Three and a half years later, in a poll released yesterday, Pew has confirmed this finding. Republicans do not like politicians who compromise, but Democrats do (emphasis mine):
Democrats simply don't share the conservatives' ideological evangelicism. We doubt our own political prescriptions and are not willing to stand by them despite opposition. We're just chronically not sure.
Thus Obama's and his team congratulate themselves on passing a health care "reform" bill that does more for the insurance industry than it does for Americans. It simply means that if you happen to be poor or lose your job, not only will you be unable to afford health insurance, you'll be fined for the privilege of being unable to afford it--while the insurance industry gets a vast new pool of mandatory customers to rip off. Yipee! (and I can't resist, [and let's face it, neither can you]" all together now".) Change We Can Believe In. Yes We Can!
For those of us who never bought this man's bring-us-all-together/MLK schtick, this is not surprising. It's been there since the beginning, most just let the Obama campaign's beatific visions of magic negritude dazzle them.
Time has passed and it's time to deal with it: Obama ain't "transforming" sh*t. Never wanted to. Never will. He accepts that some progressive ideals are beneficial, but hasn't sufficient conviction to fight decidedly for them. In that, he represents his party. In that, he is a typical Democrat.