It does seem as though we’re seeing, in this Obama’s first major test as a President, several of the weaknesses of which conservatives warned. First, Obama has no experience dealing in an executive manner with a massive organization with multiple, competing power structures. Perhaps it was his intention all along to deliver a reasonably balanced outline of a bill (and thus make himself look good to Americans generally) with the understanding that Pelosi would lard it up into a hyper-partisan monstrosity (giving payback to Democrat special interests and solidifying their base). But I don’t think so, because I think Obama genuinely wanted to deliver a broadly popular product here. Which means he should not have entrusted the legislation to Pelosi, and that in turn means that he was wrong to trust her so wholeheartedly. He’s not used to dealing with major players whose personal interests may not be his own.
Second, Obama seems fascinated by the omnipotence of his personality and his spoken word. The adulation of the masses has gotten to him; he believes in his own hype. Notice how, in interviews, he begins half of his answers with “As I said before, and I’ll say it again…” Obama defines himself by his words, and he believes his words have transformative power. Obama seems to believe that his very presence will dispel “the old hatreds” and “the lines of tribe.” Obama does not really believe that conservatives are conservative because they have fundamentally different, and fully rational, beliefs and values. He believes they’re conservative because they’ve been deceived by talk radio, by Rush Limbaugh, and by “stale old arguments” and biases. So all he has to do is explain to them the liberal position, in his charming smile and pellucid voice, and the right will be moved leftward.