I made no secret of my support for Barack Obama leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election, and I stand by everything I’ve said on this blog. Note two things though: (1) I was supporting Obama against Mitt Romney, and (2) I criticized Obama before the election as well.
I still think Obama is a better president than Romney would have been, though of course there’s no way to prove that — even electing Romney now wouldn’t be the same as electing him then. (And my liberal friends will hate me for it, but I still think George the W was a better president than Al Gore would have been.)
But, like many moderates — and a few liberals — I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with Obama in his second term.
Most of the time, I’m not frustrated with his ideas or policies — it’s just that he’s had little success in getting some of them past a divided Congress. It didn’t help that some leading Senators made it their primary goal to unseat and oppose Obama. Remember when Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”? Of course, he later clarified: “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.” But he and his fellows continued to make every effort to set up Obama for failure.
Yes, that’s frustrating, but it doesn’t take away from Obama in my opinion. At some point, future historians will make a determination about whether Obama failed because of his own shortcomings or whether he failed because of insurmountable obstacles.
But what does take away from Obama is his slippage from the high ideals he originally set forth. The most recent example was yesterday’s press conference focused on the NSA’s spying program. I don’t think it escaped anyone — left or right — that he spoke out of two sides of his mouth. What I got from it was (1) we’ll implement many of the changes that Edward Snowden wanted us to make, and (2) Snowden is a bad guy. How can both be true?
Obama attempted to emphasize that he’d called for changes before Snowden’s leaks, trying to say that all of his current proposals were his own ideas, formed long ago. Yet just two months ago, he said: “…when you actually look at the details [of the NSA program], then I think we’ve struck the right balance.” Later in June, to a Charlie Rose question about transparency, Obama responded: “It is transparent.”
And then yesterday, he said it needs to be more transparent. Well, Obama, which is it?
I did like this quote: “…it’s not enough for me as president to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well”, which shows that he at least understands the problem — something I’ve not been convinced of with many government leaders.
There have been other incidents and actions prior to this that gave me the same feeling, but frankly I haven’t made the time to write about them. What it all leads up to is a growing cynicism: it doesn’t matter who we send to the White House; they’ll turn out the vaguely the same in many ways.
While Obama can’t really hurt his own political path (there’s nowhere to go after being a two-term President, after all), I think he’s hurting his party. Remember, each party only wins the presidency by swaying middle-of-the-road voters; neither party can win it with their base alone. And middle-of-the-road voters shy away from stuff like this. Remember, I predicted last year that a Republican will win the presidency in 2016.