It comes from Obama himself:
Given how much stuff was coming at us, we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right... I think anybody who's occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can't be neglecting of marketing and PR and public opinion.
David Corn complains that this is the kind of self-criticism that does not help before an election, and that in arguing that his biggest error was under-estimating Republican obstructionism, the president cannot also argue that he can work with the GOP, if necessary, in the next two years.
I don't agree. This kind of quote is why I still believe, despite my frustrations in some areas, that Obama is the best option we've got and we're lucky to have him. I want a president who can acknowledge error, is not cocooned, can speak publicly about this, and is unafraid of self-criticism. Isn't that why so many of us supported him in the first place?
And, look, another reason we supported him is that after eight years of Rove, we actually wanted a president who got the policy right. I think his success in this is quite remarkable, in fact.
Preventing a second Great Depression, which was a real possibility (and not just the jobless recovery we're in, but a full-scale collapse), rescuing the banks without nationalizing them, saving the auto-companies with precision and technocratic skill (I didn't think it would work at all, and it did), re-setting relations with the rest of the world, bringing a new sanity and balance to Middle East policy, taking out 400 al Qaeda operatives, using the myth of the surge to get the hell out of Iraq (for the most part), upping the ante to get a deal with the Taliban and enacting a centrist, moderate law that for the first time in history ensures that anyone can get health insurance in this country ... really, in perspective, pretty damn remarkable.
Politically, he had to deal with a GOP gone insane, and a propaganda machine of such virulence and relentlessness that you can see he is where he is. But although he is right that he lost the connection to us, his supporters, I don't think he could have kept up the hope and change inspiration indefinitely.
He would rightly have been ridiculed for not being serious at governing, of being all words and no action, of all hat and no battle.
And where he is politically is really not that bad anyway - doing better than Clinton or Carter at this point, and better than Reagan, whose polling trajectory he still follows the most closely of recent presidents. The man's favorables are still 47 percent in a recession - way ahead of his competitors on the right; his approval rate is not far behind with unemployment at record highs; if and when the GOP take back the Congress, their talk radio schtick will have to face the reality of governing's hard choices. And in that battle for the center, I'd bet on Obama's reason and calm over Gingrich's flame wars, Palin's delusions and Boehner's corporate tan.
If I were buying stock right now, I'd say the president is under-priced.
(Photo: US President Barack Obama makes a statement with college students and their families in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, October 13, 2010, on the impact of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). By Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.)
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