By Manifesto Joe
Granted, he's been a disappointment, but not a totally unexpected one. I confess to having voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, for one big reason.
Politics isn't a sport for amateurs. I tend to oppose term limits because D.C. is a league that's strictly for professionals. Going into that primary, Hillary had 15 years of Beltway experience, and certainly knew what to expect from Republican rivals. Obama had been there a little over three years, and while it appears that he's a nice fellow, in politics that may be a weakness. For four and a half years, Republicans have hit him with everything including the kitchen sink, and his posture seems to be just starting to harden. I figured Hillary would have given no quarter from Day One.
So, Obama's lack of Beltway experience was as evident as I feared it would be. It's taken him until the first year of his second term to understand what political hardball is.
He's 52 tomorrow, and now that I'm 57, I look back on that as a watershed year. I'd been a fitness stickler for over 25 years until that year. I pulled a muscle and was sidelined. I realized that I'd reached upper middle age, and that it wasn't going to get any better.
Analogously, I saw multiple layoffs that year where I worked, and realized that my time would come someday. Fortunately, it took about four more years for them to get around to me. Then I went through the tortures of dealing with the cheap, greedy thieves at the Texas Workforce Commission, for six months and a week. They still owe me money that I'll never get.
But, to end the digression, at 52 I could suddenly see the end of a lot of things.
Obama turns 52 tomorrow, and he's a "lame duck." He's still struggling to make "Obamacare," his signature program, a reality against stubborn opposition. He's had to face one of the unpleasant realities of wielding power: You're responsible for the lives of a lot of people, and that can mean making choices you'd rather not make, like between privacy and safety, between social justice and responsible budgeting. He's alienated much of the left (or what's left of it) by choosing to continue domestic spying and compromising on Social Security cuts. And his deal-cutting hasn't endeared him to the right, which has reviled and vilified him from Day One.
52 is a time of life for soul-searching, and I suspect that Barack Obama will be no exception. It's time to think about legacy, about what you want to be remembered for. Obama has been reasonably pragmatic (though a bit too nice) in positioning himself as a centrist, but does he really want to be remembered as the president who approved of spying and secrecy, and who let the right needlessly gut Social Security and Medicare?
It's time for introspection. Obama must realize that alienating his base of support won't improve his standing in the history books, nor will it give him the Congress he wants in 2014. I hope he can make the right choices.
And which ones are those? To be honest, since I have no Beltway experience, I can offer no answers. Obama is there, in the thick of it. I hope he's grown into the job enough to make the best decisions.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.