The doomsayers are wrong about Obama, again

The press, Republicans, and frustrated progressives think Obama is struggling and his health plan "on the precipice of defeat." That just proves that those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat their own mistakes.

Barack Obama left for Martha's Vineyard with his presidency on the ropes and his health plan on the precipice of defeat. Or so you would conclude from the instant press analysis, the rising disaffection on the left, and the nihilistic opposition's confidence that its appeals to falsehood and fear are working. If you believed what you read, you would think that the week on the Vineyard was less a vacation than a search for temporary sanctuary. It's proof that those who don't remember history—or even what they themselves wrote a few months ago—are doomed to repeat their own mistakes.

Reporters apparently regard failure as the hot story; they have forgotten that FDR's success and Reagan's—and JFK's during the Cuban Missile Crisis—gripped public attention. The story of least resistance, for the moment, is that Obama's "yes, we can" has been blocked -- by the party of "no," and by a Democratic Congress that proves "no, they won’t." Last Friday, the Politico headlined: "Obama's Big Bang Goes Bust"—and then suggested that the "DNA" of the fevered, sometimes gun-toting crowds at the town halls, a deluded and distinct minority of Americans, show that this is "fundamentally a center-right country." A few months ago, the same online publication reported that the stimulus bill "could easily get bogged down in the House-Senate Conference Committee"—just eleven days before it passed the Congress. Similarly, New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker, who's just written that Obama has to try to "turn around a summer of setbacks," warned in January that instead of being approved "within weeks," the economic recovery plan "could require more time and negotiation than Democrats once hoped." The President signed the legislation into law within weeks—on Feb. 17.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.