In hindsight, maybe Hillary Clinton had a point about Barack Obama during their highly contentious race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
At a campaign rally in Providence, Rhode Island, the newly demoted frontrunner sarcastically shaded Obama’s more optimistic view of our political system.
Then Sen. Clinton quipped, “Now I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified.’ The sky will open. The lights will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect!”
When she made those remarks, it was easy to dismiss them as musings from a politician on the “And I Am Telling You” portion of her failed campaign. However, following a recent debt ceiling deal that has only delivered smiles to members of the GOP — particularly its Tea Party faction – some Democrats are revisiting her point-of-view.
During negotiations the president urged Congress to “do the right thing” by approving an agreement that offered cuts to entitlement programs and generate revenue. Predictably, Republican leaders did the polar opposite – leaving us with a purported “compromise” that gives one the urge to burn their dictionaries in protest.
Frustration levels soared because the president didn’t appear to fight back hard enough against the GOP. Now some no longer want to fight for him. In “Hillary Told You So,” a band of liberals expressed both their anger at President Obama and yearnings for now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to do the unthinkable: enter the 2012 presidential race.
On Obama, one Connecticut businessman who raised money for Obama in 2008 told the Daily Beast, “I’m beyond disgusted.” He added, “I think people are furtively hoping that Hillary runs.”
In a blog post entitled “Run, Hillary, Run!” presidential scholar Matthew Dickinson wrote: “You were duped by Obama’s rhetoric — the whole ‘hopey-changey’ thing. And you wanted to be part of history, too — to help break down the ultimate racial barrier.”
If that wasn’t patronizing enough, Dickinson added, “But now it’s time to elect someone who can play hardball, who understands how to be ruthless, who will be a real … uh … tough negotiator in office. There won’t be any debate about Hillary’s, er, ‘man-package.’”
Other Clinton fans, like one 67-year-old New Yorker got even plainer: “Obama has no spine and no b*lls.”
This language recalls the embittered group of Hillary supporters called PUMA (Party Unit My A**) who sought to punish Obama for the audacity of success at the expense of their candidate. If they want to waste time with delusional daydreams about President Clinton II so be it, but Hillary Clinton has already expressed that she doesn’t want to serve under a second Obama administration, let alone serve as Vice President or President.
To be fair, the office of the presidency comes with genuine power restraints, which makes it difficult for him to make inroads with ornery Republicans. But as Matthew Yglesias explains, “Serious people acknowledge the existence of big political constraints. But leaders who feel constrained look for ways forward.”
President Obama should start looking sooner rather than later because it’s not just Hillary supporters who are heated. Fed up with lack of administrative support of proposals for programs that would specifically address the black community, Rep. John Conyers said, “We want him to know that from this day forward … we’ve had it. We want him to come out on our side and advocate, not to watch and wait.”
Besides, President Obama’s popularity remains steadily in the mid 40s. That is virtually the same rating he yielded in the last two CNN polls. Not all of the news is good, though. Sixteen percent of Americans disapprove of Obama because they don’t believe he’s liberal enough — a figure that’s doubled since May.
Plus, with the economy predicted to remain sour if not worsen in the next year the president needs an excited base to win reelection. That’s not going to happen if members of his own party continue entertaining thoughts of the past or ones that move right pass him. Obama may not have to worry about a rematch with Hillary Clinton, but he’s going to have to deal with the perception among some Democrats that the president he is now is far different from the one he promised voters to be.