Limping or Vanishing?

David Broder, as many others have observed, noted the rough time Barack Obama has had of late:

Obama limped into the nomination as a vulnerable and somewhat diminished politician. After winning 11 primaries and caucuses in a row, his magic touch seemed to depart him. He lost the knack of winning the heart of the Democratic coalition, working families that look for help in meeting the economic challenges of their everyday lives. White, Hispanic, middle-aged or older, they had strong associations with Clinton and many questions about the commitments that lay behind Obama’s sweeping, reformist generalizations.

But the problem, Broder suggests, is not a demographic disconnect but a leadership vacuum:

What Democrats are just beginning to figure out is that John McCain is positioned to compete with Obama for the votes of the many Americans who are eager to put the hyper-partisanship of the past eight years behind them and witness a Washington that finally begins to address the nation’s challenges.But anyone who is realistic must recognize that forging fresh agreements in Congress and the interest-group-dominated capital will take an exceptionally strong president. Since early March, Obama has not looked like that president.

If Broder is correct, then the problems Obama faces are not merely “the Appalacian states don’t like him” or “Older women are mad,” but something more fundamental. Obama has, it seems, almost shrunk from view. The storyline each week has been Hillary Clinton’s wins, the atrocious demographic divide and the latest effort by Obama to tell us what he is not (e.g. a cohort of Reverend Wright, a naif in foreign policy, a question mark for Jews).

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Limping or Vanishing?

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