Sunday, September 6, 2009

Obama's 'Change' Agenda At a Crossroads

I put "change" in quotation marks above (if you're reading Michelle Malkin's book, you'll know why).

From the Washington Post, "The Change Agenda At a Crossroads: From Health Care to Wars to Public Anxiety, Obama's Strength as a Leader Is Tested":

As President Obama's senior advisers gathered at Blair House at the end of July for a two-day review of their first six months in office, what was meant to be a breath-catching moment of reflection was colored by a sense of unease.

To a sleep-deprived White House staff, the achievements since taking office that chilly morning of Jan. 20 seemed self-evident. The agenda of necessity they had carried out to stabilize the economy was rapidly making room for Obama's agenda of choice: changing the way Americans receive health care, generate and consume energy, and learn in public school classrooms.

But opinion polls showed support for the president and his policies dipping sharply, and the disheartening numbers had shaken the confidence of some of Obama's staff. Vice President Biden addressed the anxiousness when the Cabinet and senior staff met in the State Dining Room in the White House residence the next morning.

"Did you really think this was going to be easy?" Biden said, according to one participant.

The slide has only quickened. Emerging from an angry August recess, Obama is weakened politically and faces growing concerns, particularly from within his own party, over his strength as a leader. Dozens of interviews this summer in six states -- from Maine to California -- have revealed a growing angst and disappointment over the administration's present course.

Democratic officials and foot soldiers, who have experienced the volatile public mood firsthand, are asking Obama to take a more assertive approach this fall. His senior advisers say he will, beginning with his Wednesday address to Congress on health care.

His challenge, however, is more fundamental. Obama built his successful candidacy and presidency around a leadership style that seeks consensus. But he is entering a period when consensus may not be possible on the issues most important to his administration and party. Whatever approach he takes is likely to upset some of his most ardent supporters, many of whom are unwilling to compromise at a time when Democrats control the White House and Congress.

"Until last week, he was still trying to play ball with the Republicans who said, 'We're going to bring you down,' " said Karen Davis, 42, a musician from Jersey City who raised funds for Obama last year. "Now I'm thinking, 'This isn't what I voted for.' "
More at the link.

Also, Peggy Noonan offers a pretty good explanation for Obama's rapid decline at WSJ, "
The Obama administration is young and out of touch."

With the Jones resignation, it's going to be a feeding frenzy on the right. Who'll be next? And for the pissed off take on this on the left, see Gawker, "
Who Is Van Jones?":

So here we have a radical youth turned respectable liberal. Respectable enough to be on Time magazine listicles and win World Economic Forum prizes and everything. Respectable enough for Tom Friedman to profile him. And The New Yorker. Respectable enough for Meg Whitman, as in former eBay CEO and wealthy Republican California gubernatorial candidate and John McCain advisor Meg Whitman, to proclaim herself "a huge fan of Van Jones."

And for both his activism and his charm he was rewarded with a White House job with the Council on Environmental Quality. He
was tasked with making sure stimulus money for green jobs actually went to green jobs. And he's a great person to have in this administration—he is a genuine environmentalist and the only special interest he's beholden to is poor people. He is the sort of person we were all praying Obama would bring with him to DC, instead of Larry Summers.

And that is one of the reasons he is now being ritually and savagely demonized.
To understand why and how he's being demonized, we have to look at the way information and misinformation makes it way from crazy blogs to crazy pundits to crazy citizens to, suddenly, the non-crazy regular media.

The "why" is simple: he is a genuine left-wing liberal with a White House job. He is black. He used to be radical, and probably still has radical sympathies (you know, caring about poor black people and all that). He is, in other words, fucking terrifying, if you frame his story right.
Yeah. Just the kinda guy we all want in the White House. Right.