It's easy to be principled as a candidate or talking head or even lame-duck legislator but not so when it comes to governance.
Progressives projected a lifetime wish list onto Obama as if the messiah had finally arrived. And now he is accused of leading them off the cliff. I, too, am disappointed but not disillusioned or disaffected.
My dismay comes from his seeming inability to communicate effectively with the American people. It's hard to get their attention when times are tough and to reduce complex issues to Twitter-length slogans. Those critical of his Healthcare bill minus a public option should note that the original Social Security bill covered only widows and orphans.
No doubt he has err'd in the recent compromise by not including House Democrats at the table. Maybe he hasn't used the bully pulpit as well as some of his predecessors who presided in a time of American ascendance rather than in this period of our empire’s decline.
Analogies break down further in the details. FDR had seventy senators with him and a large majority in the House. He got them by selling his soul to the devil; the Solid South was promised no anti-lynching laws, no disturbance of the poll tax nor interference with segregation.
LBJ had 25 years experience in Congress and the key to the closet where his good old boys stored their skeletons. Indeed once he squeezed through the Civil Rights Act the Faustian deal with the Segregationists was kaput.
Obama has to deal with intransigent Red state racist populism not seen since ante-bellum days. Indeed even Lincoln, without having to deal with slave states after secession, took three years to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. For the first half of his term in office he was under attack from the Abolitionists.
The process of pushing through meaningful legislation is the art of the possible. There is not even a footnote in history books for those who deem it better to stay pure rather than give their vote to an omnibus bill containing some reprehensible paragraphs.
The current tax/unemployment legislation also contains other provisions which can be seen as a back-door stimulus. When the new Congress convenes Speaker Boehner will most certainly not bring these matters to the floor.
Some say that Obama, as quarterback, huddled with the opposition and punted on first down. I would argue that his lineman offered little protection and he was forced outside of the pocket. He settled for short pick-ups, first downs and is still marching down the field.......even as his cheerleaders have gone silent and his backers lost their shirt because he didn't cover the spread.