What Happened to Candidate Obama?

Bipartisanship has also crashed and burned. During the campaign we heard there was no blue or red America and that the baggage of past political feuds would be left aside. He vowed to put Republicans in his cabinet and to end the blood battles of the Bush years.

Now we get from the president:

I think early on, a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, "Look, let's not give him a victory, maybe we can have a replay of 1993, '94, when Clinton came in, he failed on health care and then we won in the mid-term elections and we got the majority." And I think there are some folks who are taking a page out that playbook.

Obama and the Democrats threaten to "go it alone" on health care -- ignoring the burgeoning opposition within Democratic ranks. They plan on using the highly controversial reconciliation process to run roughshod over opponents in the Senate. The president, who never solicited GOP input, declares them to be implacable foes and their ideas out of the realm of consideration.

And then there is the promise of competency. Obama was not going to repeat the lax management and administrative failings of his predecessors. He had no experience, but “judgment” we were promised and he was going to govern with an eye toward pragmatism not pie-in-the-sky adventurism. He was “No Drama” Obama, cool and collected.

Now the adjective most associated with his administration is "chaos." Liberals are amazed he has frittered away the opportunity of a generation to pass the Democratic dream of nationalized health care. Conservatives marvel that he could have delegated the drafting process to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

In sum, anyone hoping Obama would usher in a new era of idealism, bipartisanship and effective governance must be sorely disappointed. It is now about brute power and bare knuckle politics. The issue of the day now is: Can the president muscle through his increasingly unpopular health care plan by skirting congressional tradition and ignoring any angry electorate?

As the reality of President Obama replaces the promise of candidate Obama, the public has recoiled. Unless the Obama they voted for reappears he is unlikely to regain his standing with voters. And those congressmen and senators who have tied their futures to Obama's popularity will need to give voters a reason not to take their anger out on them. Or they too will find themselves, as Obama now is, in the voters’ dog house.