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Tom Foreman | BIO
I skied to work this week; strapping on my cross country planks and forging through about three miles of drifts to reach the Metro station. Much of the way I was on major roadways which, while a stiff challenge for cars, were passable enough for a determined soul. But when I made the return trip after midnight, with the wind whipping and the roads deserted; well, let’s just say it was a tad more dramatic.
That is much the same situation that President Obama faces these days. Having set out a year ago with overwhelming confidence into the storm of DC politics, he has watched the drifts of opposition inside and outside of his party pile up. The winds of public opinion, which once blew so favorably for him, have shifted. And he’s felt the bitter cold that all reformers face when they realize that DC, as a whole, has little interest in change of any sort.
So the paths he launched upon with conviction have become muddled. He was going to hold the Wall Street fat cats accountable; no more big bonuses in the wake of tax payer bailouts. Now, his tone is more muted. This is capitalism, after all.
He was going to engage our enemies in dialogue, Iran chief among them. But the demonstrations rage on, their nuclear program keeps rattling, and friendly fireside chats to resolve our differences seem like a quaint idea from long ago. Kind of like the silver standard or energy independence.
The list goes on: He was going to revolutionize health care, lead a green revolution, and calm the roiling waters between the two major parties.
Now instead of all that hope and promise, we have a new poll out this week finding 67 percent of voters dissatisfied with their government. That’s the highest level in 14 years.
For the president’s enemies, all of this is a measure of his failings. For his friends, it is a measure of Washington’s intractable ways, which Mr. Obama acknowledged early on would be tough to overcome. Whoever is right and however those two forces came together, we know this: The path that seemed so clear when he started is now deep in the drifts, and he has a lot of shoveling to do to find his way back to the sunny days he enjoyed only a winter ago.
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