THAT WASN'T HARD TO SEE COMING

Open up the New York Times op-ed page today, and you'll see that David Brooks is deeply disappointed in Barack Obama:

But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.

This is the same David Brooks who back in January wrote this:

Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this...This is a huge moment. It’s one of those times when a movement that seemed ethereal and idealistic became a reality and took on political substance...Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too.

And what do you know - over on the Washington Post op-ed page, Michael Gerson is deeply disappointed in Barack Obama:

Perhaps Obama is just conventionally liberal. Perhaps he has carefully avoided offending Democratic constituencies. Whatever the reason, his lack of a strong, centrist ideological identity raises a concern about his governing approach. Obama has no moderate policy agenda that might tame or modify the extremes of his own party in power. Will every Cabinet department simply be handed over to the most extreme Democratic interest groups? Will Obama provide any centrist check on liberal congressional overreach?

This is the same Michael Gerson who back in January wrote this:

But what is the movement about? It is, above all, the return of idealism...Obama is an impressive carrier of this message for a variety of reasons. First, his personal style evokes the golden age of nonthreatening, high-minded liberalism from the early 1960s...Second, however conventional his current ideological appeal, he has left room for future outreach to middle-ground voters...Third, Obama's race matters greatly, because most of the American story -- from our flawed founding to the civil rights movement -- has been a struggle between the purity of our ideals and the corruption of our laws and souls. The day an African American stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol -- built with the labor of slaves -- and takes the oath of office will be a moment of blinding, hopeful brightness.

Ah, the idealism of the youthful columnist. But who can blame them? Now that Obama is the Democratic nominee, he's threatening to do things like appoint Democrats to positions in the executive branch, and pursue policies consistent with Democratic ideals! Egad - no wonder they're so disillusioned.

But as I wrote back when many on the right were praising Obama, "As for the conservatives, one can't help but suspect that if Obama becomes his party's nominee, they'll get over their affection for him in short order. The conservative animus toward Democratic candidates is like a scab that they can't wait to pick, to jab with their fingernails until the blood of hatred flows yet again. Don't forget that at this time four years ago, conservatives didn't dislike John Kerry all that much." Indeed they didn't, but they sure learned to. Rest assured, the disappointment of the Brookses and Gersons will turn to a burning fury before you know it.

-- Paul Waldman

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