So this last week or so there seems to have been a bit of a rude awakening re Barack Obama over at the New York Times op-ed pages. First off, last Friday (July 4, no less) the editorial board wrote a piece titled “New and Not Improved” about how Obama’s recent move to the middle was enormously distressing, especially considering all that change he’s been promising (politicians promising change, crazy!). “We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games…We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.” Snap!
Then on Saturday, Bob Herbert accused Obama of “lurching with abandon,” of “not being the man “we had when we began,” of “taking his base for granted.” Did no one there read David Brooks very sharp “The Two Obamas” (yep, every once in a while he knocks one out of the park)? Better yet perhaps they should glance at MoDo’s recent relationship advice column where she tells us that “infatuation trumps judgment,” because when it comes to Obama the Times is sounding less like a newspaper contending with the reality and audacity of American politics and more like a disillusioned lover. As per usual, Gail Collins provides the sharpest insight:
Think back. Why, exactly, did you prefer Obama over Hillary Clinton in the first place? Their policies were almost identical except his health care proposal was more conservative. You liked Barack because you thought he could get us past the old brain-dead politics, right? He talked and talked and talked about how there were going to be no more red states and blue states, how he was going to bring Americans together, including Republicans and Democrats.
Exactly where did everybody think this gathering was going to take place? Left field?
When an extremely intelligent politician tells you over and over and over that he is tired of the take-no-prisoners politics of the last several decades, that he is going to get things done and build a “new consensus,” he is trying to explain that he is all about compromise. Even if he says it in that great Baracky way.