Dropping like flies, they are. David Brooks, David Gergen, Chris Buckley and now Maureen Dowd are all falling off the Obama bandwagon. The idealized and idolized figure who they imagined would transform the presidency and the country isn’t living up to their expectations. What’s Dowd’s beef? She also sounds like a CPAC speaker:
In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.
He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.
“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget.
He reckons he’ll need Congress for more ambitious projects, like health care, and when he goes back to wheedle more bailout billions, given that A.I.G. and G.M. and our other corporate protectorates are burning through our money faster than we can print it and borrow it from the ever-more-alarmed Chinese.
Team Obama sounds hollow, chanting that “the status quo is not acceptable,” even while conceding that the president is accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.
Obama spinners insist it was “a leftover budget.” But Iraq was leftover, too, and the president’s trying to end that. This is the first pork-filled budget from a new president who promised to go through the budget “line by line” and cut pork.
Well, maybe the Iraq part wouldn’t have been there, but just about everything else comes from the list of conservative complaints about the president (e.g. hypocrisy, irresponsibility, fiscal sloth). So do Dowd and all the other critics now get the White House back-of-the-hand, “you’re peddling failed ideas” treatment? It gets harder for Robert Gibbs to spit out the ad hominem attacks when the critics increase in number and political diversity.
I don’t think it’s realistic to expect any president to retain the level of approval and devotion with which he begins his presidency. Sometimes that popularity, or political capital, is lost by making distinct choices and obtaining certain legislative goals that offend or disappoint one group of voters or another. But, here, the goodwill is being lost for no good reason — out of laziness or lack of courage to take on the old bulls in Congress. Obama is not getting anything in return and he’s losing friends and emboldening opponents.
When combined with the gigantic and overreaching budget, his support for the omnibus travesty leaves the impression there is simply nothing he won’t spend money on — for important or unimportant items. And, more critically, it shows he lacks the political will or muscle to resist the Washington inertia which was the target of candidate Obama’s campaign. Dowd and other starry-eyed followers must be asking, “What was the point?” Meanwhile the fiscal conservatives from both parties are in revolt. All in all, that $410B is proving awfully costly.