2. This is a McLaughlin-group meta-narrative that has no resonance beyond Nebraska Avenue NW.
3. This narrative comes from conservative activists only -- and it has resonance among conservative activists only. It's fairly transparently silly.
4. I hear this from liberal elites, but his doggedness in the health care fight and his uncompromising delay in announcing his Afghanistan decision sort of belies this narrative factually. The scope of the coming changes to our health care system are enormous; Obama's poking Congress in the eye by bringing emissions targets to Copenhagen. On Afghanistan, he's not taking the path of least resistance, at least politically. Same goes for trying the 9/11 conspiracists in federal court. GTMO is well on its way to being closed -- if it had not been for the administration's follow through, GTMO would still be open in 2012 -- a virtual impossibility right now. That might not be the best course, policy-wise, but it's Obama's course, and he's pursuing it as aggressively as the law and diplomacy will allow.
5. Another conservative meta-narrative, one that resonates among the Cheneyites in the GOP. It is rejected by most of Washington, and it seems to have been rejected by most non-conservative Americans. Not sure what Obama's foreign policy narrative actually is just yet..and how it all hangs together... but trying to foist this historicist framework on it doesn't seem to tell us much.
6. Republicans will run in 2010 on this perception. Whether Obama defers to the Pelosi Congress "too much" is a question that cannot be evaluated without deciding whether (a) the Pelosi Congress is united about important questions and (b) whether their policies are correct. This is more of a question than a narrative at this point. It's also standard-Denny's-restaurant fare for politics.
7. This one doesn't bother me as it might bother others who bemoan the presence of characterological analysis in politics. It does matter how Obama comes off -- whether he plays as president -- whether his style intersects with the times. This narrative is different than narrative number 2 in that the question is not whether a president is overexposed, it's how the president decides to expose himself: what he says, and whether he follows through. This is a character question, and one that, rightly, will be debated over the next three years.
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is a contributing editor at The Atlantic
. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One
, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week