The president’s critics on the right deride him as a radical socialist seething with anti-American rage. To them, he’s a frightening success who has transformed the federal government, ruined the economy, and undermined national security. To the left, Obama is a tragic failure who squandered his chance for dramatic change: no single-payer health-care plan, no heated battle against Wall Street, and endless war in Afghanistan. If the president is struggling these days, the critics say, it’s perhaps because he’s out of touch with Americans, and even at odds with his own principles.
In his article in Newsweek dated November 17, James T. Kloppenberg, defends President Obama’s presidency. As he notes, critics notwithstanding, Obama “is doing exactly what he said he would do.” He refers readers to Obama’s two books Dreams From My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006) for confirmation.
The purists on the left and right accuse the President of not doing what they think he ought to be doing. They in effect want to tell him what he must do in the name of the American people (always be skeptical of anyone who says he or she is acting for the American people, or even more dangerous, acts as if they know what the American people want).
For those on the right, the main goal is to defeat President Obama in the 2012 elections. This means demonizing him and any policy he favors. Their idea of bipartisanship is to just say “no” to anything the President wants to do. Why? Because the American people don’t like what this President is doing.
The left’s self-defeating attitude is if the President doesn’t do exactly what he promised or, better yet, what they think he ought to do in the name of those nonrich folks, they’ll abandon him in the next election. Man, that’ll teach him and the next Democratic president a lesson. That this course of action will return the governing of the nation to the Republicans and Sarah Palin and her ick seems to have escaped them.
The right-wingers ain’t gonna change their attitude. But you on the left remember this: politics is the art of compromise.