The liberals at my Manhattan cocktail party have soured on Obama

On arriving in New York from London, I went to a party on the Upper East Side. It was a well-heeled crowd, almost all Obama supporters a couple of years back. “The guy’s a phony,” one guest said. “We need a Bloomberg, somebody who can manage,” said another, referring to the billionaire mayor of New York. “All this Clinton nostalgia, it’s because Obama is a loner, not interested in people,” said a third.

I was a struck by how people aren’t sure where Obama’s headed. There’s no narrative to the presidency. It was about believable change. Now the president seems less a passionate change agent than a careful calculator unsure of his core beliefs. In London, you know what Prime Minister David Cameron is about: rowing back the state and slashing the deficit. Agree or disagree, there’s a narrative. It helps…

There was an anti-establishment frisson to Obama, the black man who battled to overcome prejudice and America’s “original sin” to win the nation’s highest office. Yet he has revealed himself as an elite product of America’s elite schools, a politician who built his image with great intelligence but shows little taste for the nitty-gritty. Bipartisanship, when it’s not just oratory, begins with small gestures.