President Obama is seeing his “far-reaching agenda” start to slip away, said Fred Barnes in The Wall Street Journal, and he has only himself to blame. Starting with the economic stimulus, Obama has used “hardball tactics and false promises” to push through legislation that, in a “rookie mistake,” he let hyperpartisan congressional Democrats write. Now it’s backfiring, putting his core cap-and-trade and health-care bills in “serious jeopardy.”
I’d bet Obama likes the hand he’s holding, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. “No one ever thought passing a health-care bill would be easy,” for example, but Obama’s got large majorities in both chambers of Congress, and unlike other Democrats, he’s not scarred by Bill Clinton’s failed health-care plan. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’s recent, confident “Don’t bet against us” sound bite could end up defining his presidency.
Maybe, but that taunt has a new “trash-talk edge” to it: “Count me out and you’ll be sorry,” said Ben Smith in Politco. The “icy cool” Obama of earlier days “has turned hot on the stump,” improvising and even attacking Republican critics as he shifts to realities of legislative “trench warfare.” It’s unclear if the White House’s new “unease” is serious, or if Obama will get what he wants in the end, but “finally, we’re starting to see him sweat.”