I frequently find myself mystified by people’s expectations for “their” president, as if the country elected him dictator, allowing him to enact his programs without compromise. Given what he had to work with and given that historically, the Democratic party rarely follows their leaders blindly, liberals should count their blessings.
The most common hallmark of the left’s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption that this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion.