We are reaching the 100-day mark in the Obama presidency. Historians are examining whether he has done as much as FDR (no), while pundits are considering whether he is more popular than other presidents (some) and just as polarizing as George W. Bush (yes). But a more interesting question is whether independents, conservative Democrats, and moderate Republicans are bothered by what they have seen and are losing faith in the agent of change. There is reason — actually there are six reasons — why that collection of key swing voters might be having serious second thoughts.
First, the president’s budgetary plan is a Ponzi scheme. Not just died-in-the-wool conservatives, but moderates like David Brooks, Democratic stalwarts like Alice Rivlin, and editorial boards of major newspapers have figured out that Obama is spending like a drunken sailor, fudging any budget savings, and passing on a huge and unsustainable debt to future generations. It is not only tea party protesters, but average independent voters who are wary of the spend-a-thon. Problem: Obama will have a hard time holding on to fiscal conservatives.
Second, the Agent of Change has become the center of the swamp. He went to Washington promising to fundamentally change the character of politics. Instead, we have seen a parade of tax cheating appointees, a slew of ethics waivers allowing ex-lobbyists to impact their prior interest groups, and a hyper-partisan bout of chest-thumping (“We won”) which has buried hope of a post-partisan nirvana. Obama has plotted to operate the Federal Census out of Rahm Emanuel’s White House, run an amateurish smear campaign against Rush Limbaugh, and failed to attract more than three Republicans on his stimulus and budget plans. Even on education reform he has capitulated to the teachers’ union, disappointing his most ardent admirers. Problem: Young idealistic voters and independents who hate hyper-partisanship are going to be harder to lure to the polls now that they have seen President Obama, not only candidate Obama.