And what evidence does Halperin present that the coalition has been shattered? That big business, “Liberals,” and the media are against him. And what evidence does Halperin present to support this? That Halperin says so.
We won’t argue that big business is laying down the palms every time the president visits New York, but there is little to suggest that the media as a whole has turned on the president. Or there might be, but it’s not in this column. As for Liberals, Halperin throws out for evidence two Times columns published in the past two days. And while they do represent the crest of a wave of growing consternation among liberals—see the Nation’s mammoth wave-building turnabout from the middle of the year—Halperin seems to be making his argument as though Obama will face no opposition but himself come 2012.
Aside from the fact that a lot can change in two years—just look at the president’s current situation compared to early 2009—it is difficult to gauge the kind of position Obama will be in as the election draws near without knowing who he will be facing in that nearing election. It is likely that, at the very least, liberals will line up again behind the president no matter who he faces from the right. If his opponent turns out to be a certain media punching bag and former Alaskan governor, the press is likely to follow suit. Such a nomination might be just the kind of luck Halperin means.
As noted above, Halperin writes, “These trends are all worse in Washington and among opinion leaders than they are in the country at large, but the views of elites are clearly shaping how the President is perceived by the nation in general.”
Clearly shaping? Wishful thinking.
Among the country at large I suspect the economy, jobs, the deficit, wallets, and not the ideological grumblings of opinion leaders ensconced inside the beltway, are causing the bulk of the president’s current troubles. But that’s just based on the November exit polling rather than the consensus of a Morning Joe panel.
Halperin’s column feels too guilty of that conceit to which Washington’s “opinion leaders” seem at times hopelessly devoted: squeezing the current president into presidential narratives past. Clinton and Bush needed a big moment; so too must Obama. It might be true. But in forcing the connection and not acknowledging the differences between the circumstances which brought those presidencies to their low points, Halperin seems to be doing a lot of quick gymnastics to make his argument. He ignores Obama’s unique current position, he fails to acknowledge the change in dynamic an opponent will add, and gives too little credence to the potential for change that a two year period offers.
The landing may be perfect, the president may indeed need a bit of luck to win in 2012, but the routine before is a little sloppy.