I think we might have passed the requisite "Obama should get angry ROOOWWWR!" phase of the healthcare reform debate. Thank effing goodness.
Rather than engaging the crazies, Charles Blow thinks the president's approach wasn't so terrible after all:
Maybe Obama was wise to hang back. While anger can simmer forever, overheated outrage is exhausting and ultimately counterproductive.
Anyone familiar with Aesop’s fable "The Tortoise and the Hare" surely remembers this lesson: slow and steady wins the race. I was beginning to think of Obama as the hare, but maybe he’s the tortoise.
There was never anything to gain by the president suddenly ripping into the tea baggers or strong-arming congressional Republicans. As satisfying as it might've been from a purely sporting point of view, I tend to agree with Blow that this above-the-fray approach is a more effective strategy for this president, and it suits his political demeanor.
One thing I've noticed during this past phase of "Obama should [fill in the blank]" was the simultaneous complaints: 1) Obama is just like Bush, dammit!, and 2) Obama should be more like Bush, dammit!
If we look at the last week of foreign relations alone, we can easily see how vastly different this president is from his predecessor. Poland, missile defense, Russia, Iran, the UN. George W. Bush never would've achieved this level of progress and certainly not with the same level of diplomatic panache. That aside, the vast majority of the president's record so far has reflected progressive priorities, despite a handful of frustratingly centrist moves.
As for #2, Bush's domestic policy agenda was mostly a failure despite congressional majorities and a weak opposition party. Sorry -- acting more like Bush when it comes to Congress is a recipe for failure. See also "privatizing Social Security" and "immigration reform."
Anyway, I'm glad the early September hand-wringing is over for another year.