Voters in Massachusetts reflected the mounting frustration that many Americans feel with Barack Obama.
Some call it buyer’s remorse. Other claim betrayal.
Obama the President is a far cry from Obama the candidate.
That’s the contradiction.
That’s also the problem.
So we have a tale of two Obamas.
It turns out there were core contradictions in the promises Barack Obama made to the country in 2008. They caught up with his party on Tuesday in Massachusetts.
Things will not get easier. Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s victory will empower Republicans in Congress to hold to their course of obstruction. Washington will remain the object of scorn as a dysfunctional capital, and absent a new Obama approach, the GOP can act with the confidence that only Democrats will pay a price for the failure of comity.
This problem goes directly to the tensions in Obamaism. As a candidate, Obama pledged to change the tone in Washington and restore amicable relations between the parties. But he also promised to accomplish large things, including a substantial reform of the health-care system, major action to ease global warming and a reshaped and more responsible financial system.
At some point, Obama’s ambitions were destined to collide with the views of a Republican Party fundamentally opposed to almost everything he wants to do. Obama could try to get big things done or he could work easily with Republicans, but he could not do both.
As a result, he found himself leaning entirely on support from his own party, forcing a strategy of inside deal-making. This alienated the many rank-and-file Americans who don’t like the looks of such arrangements, however necessary they are.