Sunday, November 27, 2011

President Obama as Piñata


Published: November 26, 2011 New York Times

A YEAR before President Obama faces re-election, take a look at what has happened to other Western leaders confronting voters in this economic vortex

Spain’s Socialist government was defeated in a crushing landslide vote a week ago, leaving the party with its fewest members of Parliament since democratic elections were introduced in 1977. That’s the pattern for incumbents from Ireland to Finland, Portugal to Denmark: Spain’s was the eighth government to topple in Europe in two years.

In this economic crisis, Obama will face the same headwinds. That should provide a bracing warning to grumbling Democrats: If you don’t like the way things are going right now, just wait.

President Obama came into office with expectations that Superman couldn’t have met. Many on the left believed what the right feared: that Obama was an old-fashioned liberal. But the president’s cautious centrism soured the left without reassuring the right.

Like many, I have disappointments with Obama. He badly underestimated the length of this economic crisis, and for a man with a spectacular gift at public speaking, he has been surprisingly inept at communicating.

But as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for. read more

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