This candid take on Barack Obama disappointing his fan base by being pretty much as craven as every politician raises the question: but does it matter?
On one hand, where are liberals going to go in the election? (Somehow the media answer for conservatives is always “They’ll stay home!” and for liberals is “They’ll vote for him anyway.”) One can query whether new, younger voters who were hyped up by all the Obama hoopla might in fact drift away and adhere more to traditional iffy-turnout patterns of the past. Still, most of these voters will — like grumbly conservatives — turn out to vote for the candidate who gives them at least half a loaf.
On the other hand, Obama was supposed to be different. When he’s proven not to be and lots of formerly enthusiastic people say so publicly and angrily it can depress fundraising, volunteerism and that “enthusiasm gap” which Obama has enjoyed. Generally, if you are going to create a mass movement based on cultish adoration of the leader, the leader better not let his followers down.
What all of this has done to a great extent is to level the media playing field. (“If he loses in November, this will be remembered as the turning point in the race. . .”) The press is now aggressively and skeptically covering Obama as they never have before. Whether that persists, and whether the media really has any impact on voters’ perceptions, remains to be seen.