One of the defining things about Barack Obama the presidential candidate was how much enthusiasm he generated among his followers. They didn’t just believe he would be a good president; they were convinced he would be a great one on par with Lincoln. Some swooned in his presence; there were even reports of people fainting when he appeared before them at campaign events.
People traveled many miles and volunteered long hours on behalf of his campaign. They became rhapsodic when describing his qualities (often imagined) and delineating his potential. Now, it seems this passion has cooled.
When talking with liberal friends (and family members), many of whom were gung-ho for the Illinois Democrat in 2008, I hear mostly disappointment. One septuagenarian one-time Hollywood heartthrob called him a “failure.” A mother on the cusp of middle-age wishes he would refrain from seeking reelection to allow a more competent Democrat to take his place. A man a few years younger than she says that while he has concerns about the Medicare reforms in Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, grants that at least the Wisconsin Republican has a plan for deficit reduction while Obama does not.
Over the Labor Day weekend, I went to a number of events in the Hamptons. At all of them, Obama was discussed. At none of them — that’s none — was he defended. That was remarkable. After all, sitting around various lunch and dinner tables were mostly Democrats. Not only that, some of them had been vociferous Obama supporters, giving time and money to his election effort. They were all disillusioned. Let me call the roll. I am talking about are writers and editors, lawyers and shrinks, Wall Street tycoons and freelance photographers, hedge funders and academics, run-of-the-mill Democrats and Democratic activists. They were all politically sophisticated, and just a year ago some of them were still vociferous Obama supporters. No more.
Even the press, Glenn quipped this morning, “has become noticeably less deferential of late.“