I really don’t want to be unsympathetic to Barack Obama, or any president, yes, including his predecessor, for having a strong ego and lots of self-confidence. Deciding to run for a major party’s nomination, securing it and then running for election against the nominee of the opposing party are not for the short-winded, weak-willed or those racked with self-doubt. In fact, I don’t want a president who lacks self-confidence. But some explanation of things done or left undone at odds with campaign commitments, whether they be apologies for personal failings in key areas or simply thoughtful expositions of why one has chosen a path other than that proposed need not undermine a healthy ego or a self-confident character.
A cynic might think Obama would rather run in 2012 against the background of a Republican Congress than with a Democratic one that had failed to meet public expectations and thus isn’t going to do more than the minimum to rally Democratic voters in a year when he is not on the ballot. But that’s like deliberately choosing to enter the second half of the game behind rather than ahead of the other team. It may be the modern political calculus but it takes some getting used to to accept that being in the lead the whole game isn’t better.
Glenn Greenwald (I know, him again) makes a list of items in which Obama has not only failed to live up fully to his campaign pledges but has either failed completely or has adopted the very policies he criticized when practiced by his predecessor. Sometimes he’s gone farther than Bush did to make these latter policies unacceptable.