What happened to candidate Obama?
Obama’s candidacy was defined (to the exasperation of conservatives) by idealism, appeals to bipartisanship, and competency. He is now short on all three — which explains why his support among voters and especially independents (who were susceptible to pledges to end old-style politics) has plummeted.
As for the idealism, no president has sunk so far so fast. Candidate Obama chastised Washington as a place where good ideas died. He summoned young voters with high-minded slogans and Kennedy-esque rhetoric. Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush were mere politicians; he was the leader of a whole new era in politics.
Now? Opponents of health care are stooges, evil-mongers, and villains. Citizen activists are to be reported to the authorities for spreading misinformation or ridiculed. The candidate with the superior temperament has devolved into a peevish president exasperated that mere citizens would question his wisdom or stand in his way.
Even for those of us who realized that the whole post-partisan, even-tempered candidate thing was a mountain of bovine excrement, his transformation has been a bit of a shock. I expected him to lurch left, but not to turn into the modern-day Richard Nixon.