February 12th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

The President's snow patrol

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/09/jobs.bill.politics/smlvid.capitolsnow.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

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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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

Filed under: Opinion • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. carol ross

    You talk about is going to happen to the people in Haiti when the rainy season starts in Haiti. I saw piece on the news awhile back talking about all of the trailors that were used during the Katrina disaster. Why can't you take those trailors and put them on a ship and take them to Haiti. They are just sitting there doing no one any good and they could be of so much good use to the people in Haiti. I hope this idea is thought about and put to good use. Thank you.

    February 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  2. jummy

    I think obama is trying his best in a bad situation. He didn't make this mess But he has to clean it up but let's give him a chance. Enough with the criticism.

    February 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  3. KC514

    Excellent analysis of the challenges that anyone elected President faces when he or she actually takes the job. Obviously, it's much easier to make sweeping promises in "easy to understand" sound bites for the media. Making promises a reality by moving legislation through the morass of Congressional politics, lobbyists and special interest groups is another matter entirely. Given that governments at all levels are increasingly complex and that the national and international economies are intertwined and interdependent, I can't imagine that any one person could lead our country out of the current mess. And most people who think about this don't expect the President to be all things to all people. What they do expect is that our leadership has no hidden agendas and tries to bring all viewpoints to the table for consideration. What has happened too often in recent decades is that candidates make promises they can't keep and then flail around helplessly when they lose support from the man and woman on the street. Obama's problems began when he assumed that his election victory indicated support for all his proposals when actually it was a cry from the people for someone in power to listen to them and do something practical to solve their everyday problems–provide jobs and save their homes from foreclosure.

    February 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  4. Tim Gibson

    The winds have shifted to the south in reforming our nation and the well worn knee pads of hope and change by the intraspecies predators of DC stand in record levels of discontent. Taking what they want in violation of social norms without guilt or remorese to do as they please.

    While it appears our leadership, from the front to the back, lack conscience and empathy, the very qualities that allow a free nation to live in social harmony. Are we not the people who taught the world to sing in perfect harmony.

    All the rationalizing, blaming someone else. The likable first impression, glib and superficially charming now resembles the John McCain campaign. Unorganized, all over the place, with muzzle in hand. As the wind continues to swirl, and the dialouge only mimics normal human emotions, the footing may become more difficult to regain.

    February 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  5. giancarlo

    Colin Powell said "one thing a time", The inclosed politic inertia in Washingtont can be faced only in this way, MR PRESIDENT didnt failed in anything pheraphs he is in multiple fronts in the same time. Could be silly but when you play risico (generals,in my opinion, should play that game) you learn just one thing:concentrate your tanks on a single objective, the strategic moves sometime can wait a while you can accomplish just a tactic result (the easyest in that time).Many says that nothing was accomplished by this admin, but the 20's recession was avoided, is this a small result?Yes we know that the economy is not in good health, but if President didnt do the recovery act maybe things should had gone more worse.Now he is focusing the word JOBS, if the staff has the same result that HAD in finantial recover in few mounths we can say Mission Accomplished, reamins lots of things to do which he promised, but while he is busy in multiple fronts i can say he gave the right priorities, it seems a selfcontraddiction but it isnt.

    February 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  6. Maria H-Miami

    I keep saying it, Obama's lack of hands-on administrative experience whether in government or private sector is doing him in, his promises of many un-tested theories show it. He is the result of his in-experience. He does not compare to Carter-Governor-Naval Officer-Farmer, Reagan-Governor-Actor-Captain Army Air Force, HW Bush-Businessman, Vice President, Congressman, Ambassador-Director Central Intelligence-Naval Aviator, Clinton-Governor-Lawyer-Arkansas Attorney General-Professor, W Bush-Governor-Business-Air Nat'l Guard-Air Force Reserve. I found previous Presidents either served as Governors, served in military, held various government positions, were businessman, all had experience in administration, being in charge of making decisions whether in government or private sector, they dealt with budgets, jobs, environment, investments,banking, finances,taxes etc... Obama is an author, was a community organizer, lawyer, Senator.

    February 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm |