Pundits Begin to Worry About Obama

In the aftermath of Barack Obama's overseas trip, the liberal punditocracy has begun to fret. Certainly there is reason for concern. Obama's poll numbers are within the margin of error in a year in which a generic Democrat would be beating a generic Republican by double digits. And the storylines which dominated the news since the trip have been ones unfavorable to their chosen candidate: his ego, the snub of wounded U.S. soldiers in Germany, a potential flip-flop on offshore drilling and a poorly received attempt to play the race card.

Richard Cohen was one liberal pundit who emerged from the fog of Obama-mania. Cohen threw cold water on the notion that a liberal Senate candidate from Hyde Park showed political courage by opposing the Iraq war, and then recited chapter and verse on the flip-flop orgy:

He has been for and against gun control, against and for the recent domestic surveillance legislation and, in almost a single day, for a united Jerusalem under Israeli control and then, when apprised of U.S. policy and Palestinian chagrin, against it. He is an accomplished pol -- a statement of both admiration and a bit of regret.

But what really irked Cohen was Obama's "tissue thin" record and the nagging sense that despite Obama's attractive packaging Cohen was "still not sure, though, what's in it."

But Cohen wasn't alone. Ruth Marcus, no conservative cheerleader either, also was not pleased. For her, the issue was one that Obama critics had long dwelled on: what's he done?

After reviewing the New York Times' examination of Obama's career as a law lecturer, Marcus mused that it was "a reminder of Obama's essential elusiveness, and how little we understand about how the candidate himself would resolve these thorny problems." What nagged her was the sense that "in the hardest cases, I'm not always sure where Professor Obama, or President Obama for that matter, comes down."

Over at Huffington Post a prominent liberal voice fretted that maybe the Left's faith in Obama was overblown and as misplaced as the belief (before the blue dress) that Bill Clinton had not had an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

And of course all this followed the rage from the Left over the appalling (to them) reversal on FISA and the disgust over Obama's decision to renege on his public financing pledge (which was then followed by his ludicrous effort to blame the Republicans for his mendacity).

But Dana Millbank really opened the floodgates with a devastating column on Obama's enormous ego and arrogance. Dubbing Obama the "presumptuous nominee," Millbank described Obama's visit to Capitol Hill:

Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or more to have photos taken with him. . . Some say the supremely confident Obama -- nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that "the odds of us winning are very good" -- has become a president-in-waiting. But in truth, he doesn't need to wait: He has already amassed the trappings of the office, without those pesky decisions. . . "I think this can be an incredible election," Obama said later. "I look forward to collaborating with everybody here to win the election." Win the election? Didn't he do that already?

For those who had been following Obama's arrogant utterances and embarrassing show of presumptuousness this was nothing new. But coming from the pen of the acerbic columnist (whose vitriol is usually reserved for conservatives), Millbank's column was a shocker.