New lefty meme: Obama’s amazing temperament now a liability

Part of the Democrats’ political problem is that their defense, confusingly, depends on counterfactuals (without the actions they took in the face of fierce Republican opposition, the great slump would have metastasized into a Great Depression), deferred gratification (the health-care law’s benefits do not kick in fully until 2014), and counterintuitive propositions (the same hard times that force ordinary citizens to spend less money oblige the government—whose income, like theirs, is falling—to spend more). Another part of the problem, it must be said, is public ignorance. An illuminating Bloomberg poll, taken the week before the election, found that some two-thirds of likely voters believed that, under Obama and the Democrats, middle-class taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program are gone, never to be recovered…

But why don’t “the American people” know these things? Could it be because the President and his party did not try, or try hard enough, to tell them? Obama’s still loyal supporters—his “base”—are, most of them, disappointed and depressed. This year, more Democratic candidates seemed to apologize for the health-care law—notwithstanding its imperfections, their party’s greatest accomplishment in generations, the fulfillment of a century-long dream—than to proclaim it. Compromise, timidity, and the ugliness of the legislative process—not all of it unavoidable—have exacted a steep toll. Even Obama’s temperament has become a political liability. In 2008, his calm was a synergistic counterpoint to the joyous excitement of the throngs that packed his rallies. In the tidy, quiet isolation of the White House, his serene rationality has felt to many like detachment, even indifference. For him and for the country, the next two years look awfully bleak. Capitol Hill will be like Hamburger Hill, a noisy wasteland of sanguinary stalemate. There will be no more transformative legislation; it will be all Obama can do simply to protect health-care reform from sabotage. The economy, like the climate, will be left to fend for itself. And the world will watch, wonder, and worry.