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Obama does not see the United States as systemically broken and therefore, I think he believes he's doing a pretty awesome job. Obama is the product of the system and it worked for him. So, how could it be broken?

There's a new article out in Vanity Fair by Todd Purdum that paints a picture of Obama realizing Washington is broken, but doesn't think he can do anything about it, so he's just going to plow ahead with what he thinks is right and hopes history will prove him right (because of course history is never written by people with an ax to grind).

I'm with you on this, Magnifico. A much better article was this one by John Judis, "The Unnecessary Fall," noting the many shortcomings of the Obama Administration. My reaction to that article was very much along the lines of what you just wrote.

Obama doesn't see the US as systematically broken. He just thinks it needs the right technocrat in charge. It's not just that Obama believes in elite individuals - he believes in elite institutions. He believes the supposedly "collegial" Senate processes are good and should be respected (which was the content of his only appearance at Daily Kos, back in 2005 to chide the netroots for criticizing the Senate's acquiescence to the John Roberts nomination).

He believes the financial industry is inherently good and should be respected - sure, there were some reforms that were needed, but those reforms were intended to help the existing financial industry continue to do what it is doing. He believe health insurance and pharmaceutical companies can play a constructive role in health care delivery and that we shouldn't try to cut them out of the process.

All of this speaks to someone whose political instincts and values stopped evolving sometime around 1996. He hasn't accepted that each of those elite institutions have completely failed and need either dramatic overhaul or outright abolition, since he still believes in these elite institutions and the individuals who run them.

I also believe Judis is right that Obama abhors confrontation - his political philosophy as laid out in "Dreams of my Father" and "Audacity of Hope" make that quite clear - and that fits well with someone who is neither temperamentally or ideologically willing to challenge the elite forces that destroyed our economy. Obama understandably surrounded himself with advisors who shared that view - members of the existing elite. Obama brought on board Geithner, Summers, and Emanuel because they were part of an elite that Obama respected and thought was generally working pretty well.

As a result, Obama has a team of people who reinforce his own instincts - which misjudge the political mood, and which misunderstand the policy needs, of the country.

Judis is right that Obama risks repeating the Carter Administration, and all it'll take is a Romney or someone like that to look at the camera and ask "are you better off now than you were four years ago?" for a president who is out of touch with the public mood and unwilling to challenge a failed elite to not be given a second chance.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Aug 17th, 2010 at 11:35:34 AM EST
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