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Obama's hollow victories

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"The problem is that he and his West Wing turn out to be not especially good at politics, or communications -- in other words, largely ineffective at the very things on which their campaign reputation was built. And the promises he made in two years of campaigning turn out to be much less appealing as actual policies. . . .

"On the issues voters care most about -- the economy, jobs and spending -- Obama has shown himself to be a big-government liberal. This reality is killing him with independent-minded voters -- a trend that started one year ago and has gotten much worse of late. . . .

"What is Obamaism? Conservatives think he stands for backdoor socialism. Liberals think he is a sell-out. Independents think he is a president with no clear compass who is breaking the bank with excessive spending."

The piece draws a quick dissent from Jonathan Chait in the New Republic:

"I find the thesis unpersuasive -- Obama remains by far the most popular national politician. Indeed, their argument is almost a self-contradiction -- enacting your policy agenda is the purpose of politics. The article is a strange expression of Washington journalism logic, expressed in its strongest form by Politico, which deems politics a kind of game that exists utterly apart from policy. . . .

"They note that the Obama administration and the press corps hate each other: In what would surprise media critics outside Washington, many reporters don't much like Obama or his gang either. They accurately perceive the contempt with which they are held by his White House, an attitude that undoubtedly flows from the top. Insults and blustery non-responses, f-bombs flying, are common in how West Wing aides speak to reporters. . . .

"During the Clinton administration, liberal complaints were almost totally off the national radar. The internet has given the left a stronger voice, and while that voice is often unreasonable, it's valuable to have a political dialogue that doesn't range from the unhinged right to the very moderate center-left, as we did in the 1990s and early Bush years."

The New York Times also goes there: "Mr. Obama's legislative success poses a paradox: while he may be winning on Capitol Hill, he is losing with voters at a time of economic distress, and soon may be forced to scale back his ambitions."

National Review's Jim Geraghty seems to dismiss the Politico article as spin:

"By the way, why do White House officials talk so candidly to Politico? Probably because they write lines like this: 'Obama is perceived as failing to win over the public, even though by most conventional measures he is clearly succeeding.'

"Silly readers. You only think you don't like what he's doing!"

HuffPost's Jason Linkins is unusually personal:


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