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Morning Jay: Obama's Dilemma

6:00 AM, Jun 13, 2012 • By JAY COST
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What’s more, Democratic strategists are joining the chorus of Democratic talking heads criticizing Team Obama. Every choice his campaign makes is now criticized somewhere by somebody on his own side as short-sighted, ineffectual, and sometimes even foolish. But how much is that Team Obama’s fault, and how much is it just the awful landscape they have to deal with? And is the critics’ advice any better? That’s doubtful. Instead, what Team Obama is dealing with right now is a political environment in which there are no slam-dunk strategies for them.

The ironic thing about all this is that Barack Obama is now actually paying for mistakes that he made when people were praising him as the next FDR! Give a careful read to Sean Trende’s article from yesterday about what Obama could have done differently in 2009. That was the moment when his political power was at its apex – and the choices he made set the path for the rest of his tenure. Back then, the president had a real opportunity to build a relatively broad consensus to deal with the recession. He chose not to do that. Instead, he passed an ill-conceived stimulus, then proceeded to focus on health care, without regard to whether the economy was actually recovering. It actually wasn’t, and the country responded in November 2010 by electing enough Republicans to stop the president in his tracks, and there he has stayed for the last 20 months.

So now, President Obama’s fate is really out of his hands. Instead, it comes down to three things: How much the economy grows over the next five months; what the Supreme Court does with Obamacare; and finally whether Mitt Romney can persuade Americans that he’d do a better job over the next four years. For all the power that the 44th president had a few years ago, he’s now little more than a spectator, waiting and watching like the rest of us to see what happens next.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.

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