The New York times has an article today discussing why the president is suffering from fading popularity. As with most of the “mainstream” media outlets, I think they are DC focused and really miss the point. Their argument is that he has been focusing on a legislative agenda to the detriment of getting his message out.
Here is the reason I, and many other people, are disappointed in the President, and it boils down to one word: timidity. The President has never missed an opportunity to water down any and all of the bold promises he made during the campaign. Either he negotiates away things before ever pushing for them (public option, financial oversight), says he will fight for/against things and then doesn’t (don’t ask don’t tell, executive branch abuses), or just outright gives up on things started (Guantanamo, second stimulus). These are but a few examples, but it boils down to something pretty simple. This President eloquently argued that he stood for all sorts of things during the campaign, and once in power promptly forgot about a lot of them. Plain and simple, people voted for something better. They voted for the “fierce advocate” who never was, and seems to have never missed an opportunity to compromise on his “bedrock” principles. I am really shocked that the mainstream press seems so clueless about this. Obama was voted in on a wave of hope for a better future, and the power of all those young people, all those progressives, all those common sense conservatives was targeting the same idea: To put behind us the abuses of the past 8 years and try to rebuild trust in government. Are we better off than under Bush or than we would have been under McCain? Absolutely, not a shred of doubt there. But just being better off than we would have been makes for a pretty lackluster argument, and doesn’t speak to the huge drop in enthusiasm. If the democrats lose a lot of seats this fall, it will be due to a lot of factors (the state of the economy, obstruction by republicans, etc). But it will also be due in large part to the fact that the President refused to stand up for what he (supposedly) believed in.