If there’s one thing that typified Barack Obama’s rise to power, it was his vow to combat the cynicism Americans have about what is possible in Washington. It’s a theme that he used as a state senator from Illinois who was seaking a U.S. Senate seat and that he would return to as a presidential candidate. But as he’s approaching the mid-point of his presidency, even his own White House staffers are starting to realize that their expectations for Obama may have been a bit lofty. Peter Baker writes in a New York Times magazine piece on Obama:
Some White House aides who were ready to carve a new spot on Mount Rushmore for their boss two years ago privately concede now that he cannot be another Abraham Lincoln after all. In this environment, they have increasingly concluded, it may be that every modern president is going to be, at best, average.
“We’re all a lot more cynical now,” one aide told me. The easy answer is to blame the Republicans, and White House aides do that with exuberance. But they are also looking at their own misjudgments, the hubris that led them to think they really could defy the laws of politics. “It’s not that we believed our own press or press releases, but there was definitely a sense at the beginning that we could really change Washington,” another White House official told me. “ ‘Arrogance’ isn’t the right word, but we were overconfident.”
Among other points of interest in the article…
— Obama says he now realizes that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects…”
— The White House doesn’t think Sarah Palin will run in 2012, doesn’t think Mitt Romney can win a GOP primary as a result of his Massachusetts health care plan, and instead expects to run against Mike Huckabee.
— Identifies outgoing Sen. Judd Gregg and Rep. Paul Ryan as the only Republicans he could work with who are serious about economic and fiscal policy.