Catch a falling star: One year of Hopenchange

What is certain is that the almost-mad expectations placed on Obama that unusually warm night in Chicago’s Grant Park when he delivered his victory speech last November, have given way now to a general unease about his performance in office. For sure, he has mostly avoided calamity. Not getting the Olympics for Chicago doesn’t count. Nor is his administration in disarray or anything close to it. (Mr Clinton had barely arrived in office before he was instantly engulfed in mini-scandals.) But the Obama magic that should be working to protect Democrats like Corzine and Deeds seems mostly to have leaked away…

The narrative of a President who is too pliable has been growing in volume since the summer, much to the chagrin of the White House. Nor is it coming only from the right. There are those on the left who feel let down by Obama and are infuriated by his “political pragmatism”. They object, for instance, when he refuses to push aggressively for the so-called “public option” to compete with private insurers in a new healthcare system, or when he declines to meet with the Dalai Lama in Washington because his agenda with China is more important to him. They even don’t like it when he brushes off a member of Congress openly calling him a liar as being unimportant.

That’s the way Obama is, but some contend it is unhelpful. “Obama has created an atmosphere of no fear,” Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University and political biographer, told the National Journal. “Nobody is really worried about the revenge of Barack Obama, because he is not a vengeful man. That’s what we love about him; he is so high-minded, and a conciliatory guy, and he tries to govern with a sense of consensus – all noble goals, but they don’t get you very far in this Washington knifing environment.”