Of course, "take the world as you find it" will not be Obama's campaign slogan in 2012. (In 2008 he told us we had the power to "save our planet," not resign ourselves to its degradation.) But considering his frequently lamented tendency to fold rather than fight, there's no reason to think "resign yourself" wouldn't continue to be the President's guiding principle, should he somehow manage to get re-elected, despite having alienated the left without ameliorating hostility on the right or gaining support from labile voters in the center. (Clive Crook concisely explains the sorry dynamic here.)
I'm not denying the legislative accomplishments of the past two years (notably health care and financial reform), or endorsing an all or nothing approach to legislation; although I'm also not forgiving the Administration's abandonment of efforts to close Guantanamo, try terror suspects in civilian courts, or hold officials accountable for torture and its attendant cover-ups. But, (like a lot of people) I am struck by what the Administration's partial successes and total failures share: an apparent belief in the power of appeasement.
"You take the world as you find it" is what you might explain after negotiations have concluded (in an arguably unavoidable compromise), it's not what you announce before they've begun. You don't need to be a particularly shrewd or experienced negotiator to sense that "I'm a push-over" is probably not an effective opening gambit. And you can't blame liberals for being dispirited when, having hoped they were electing another FDR, they find themselves saddled with Neville Chamberlain instead.
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