No one in the media labored as hard to bolster Barack Obama as a candidate and defended President Obama more strenuously than New York Times columnist David Brooks.
But now Obama is galloping leftward. As Ben Smith and Carrie Budoff Brown write in Politico: “The pivot from appeasement to partisanship is a notable shift for Obama, one that follows a brutal summer during which his compromise on the debt ceiling made him appear weak against the Republican-controlled House and further depressed his standing with Democrats and independents.” Unfortunately that has upset not only Republicans but moderate Democrats (“Moderate Dems duck, cover on tax hikes”).”
All of this leaves Brooks bereft in the wake of Obama’s Rose Garden speech on the debt. He writes:
This wasn’t a speech to get something done. This was the sort of speech that sounded better when Ted Kennedy was delivering it. The result is that we will get neither short-term stimulus nor long-term debt reduction anytime soon, and I’m a sap for thinking it was possible.
Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.
But that was based on nothing more than wishful thinking and sharply creased pants. Now Brooks is reduced to throwing a bouquet at the feet of the Republicans, conceding that “at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think. The White House gives moderates little morsels of hope, and then rips them from our mouths. To be an Obama admirer is to toggle from being uplifted to feeling used.” It sounds like Brooks might need some grief counseling. He’s lost his idol and his credibility.
Well, Brooks certainly should have seen this one coming. If the first stimulus plan and ObamaCare didn’t alert him to Obama’s leftist instincts, then certainly the fear-mongering and baseless accusations he launched in the 2010 campaign (the Chamber of Commerce takes foreign money to steal away our democracy!) should have alerted him.
But self-delusion can be a powerful thing. Once the spell is broken, however, the anger from deception and the hurt of disappointment can be equally powerful. If Brooks is experiencing that, do you suppose the independents, moderate Democrats and liberal Republicans who voted for Obama in 2008 may be undergoing a similar awakening? There is one difference, however: The voters caught on a year or so ago. They aren’t saps.