Back in February, Jonah Golberg, (paralleling a notion I would later put forward) dated the onset of Obama’s troubles to the very “dawn of his administration“, indeed, to the first massive bit of legislation, he and Democrats pushed through Congress:
Politically, the stimulus offered the president a chance to break the back of the GOP, while at the same time fulfilling his promise to transcend the gridlock and partisanship of recent years. If he had offered something close to half-a-loaf to Republicans at the time, he wouldn’t have won total GOP support, but he would have gotten a sizable chunk of their votes â€” enough for the White House to claim a real bipartisan victory and force a Republican buy-in to Obama’s agenda. The climate going into the 2010 elections might look very different if the Republican Party had an ownership stake in Obama’s economic policies.
Now, Glenn Reynolds* alerts us to a piece in the Los Angeles Times where Aaron David Miller offers a similar view, claiming that while Obama may have “arrived at the right time; unlike them, he may have badly misread his moment, and America’s.” Note, I say similar. Miller doesn’t seem to offer as harsh an opinion of the president as some on the right do, but he does find that, in misreading the country, the president was guilty of “overreach”:
Obama was a man on a mission in 2008. But he has allowed his agenda to obscure his capacity to see where most Americans were and what they wanted.
First, he was convinced that the country was so badly served by his Republican predecessor that most Americans understood the need for sweeping change and were prepared to support it. Second, he misread his crisis: the recession. . . .
Obama may have had no choice but to introduce a large stimulus bill to stop the economic bleeding, but healthcare reform (and the way it was done) represented an overreach and stressed a political system that was already dysfunctional.
Read the whole thing. And I say that not because I agree entirely with Miller’s perspective, but he does offer a thoughtful non-conservative critique of the president, a lover’s lament if you will.