Fouad Ajami writes in the Wall Street Journal:
"As a student of history"—such is the way Mr. Obama described himself in his 2009 Cairo speech—our president would have known that a command economy is alien to the American temperament, that unfettered government spending was bound to arouse the antagonism of the American people. We were not all Keynesians after all, and the American people—to liberals' wonderment—cared about budget deficits.
To be sure, there was panic in the midst of the recession of 2008. That anxiety helped carry Mr. Obama to office; it bridged the gap between Mr. Obama and the white working class in the rust belt states. But it did not last. In their infinite wisdom, ordinary Americans caught in the grip of a terrible economic malady still cared about the direction of the country and the debt burden their children would come to carry.
Mr. Obama had demonized the Bush tax cuts. They were, in the full length of his campaign, emblematic of the politics of greed and heartlessness. But he came around. There was no need to love or embrace them: It was enough that the president came down from on high to accept the logic of things and to step aside in the face of the popular revolt against big government and higher taxes.
The era of charisma, which began when Barack Obama was swept into office by delirium and enthusiasm, has drawn to a close. With the resounding repudiation of the midterm elections, the tax legislation, the ratification of a strategic arms pact with Russia and the end of "don't ask, don't tell" thanks to the support of Republican senators, the Obama presidency has just begun.