Mr. Obama has some considerable achievements, including his health care bill and the reversal of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers. But he often seems to achieve them by outsourcing much of the work to Democrats in Congress or to his various lieutenants.
It’s a strategy that Mr. Obama’s critics and admirers have sometimes characterized as “leading from behind.”
[H]is seemingly risk-averse approach roils many Democrats, even as most of them approve of his overall performance.
That Mr. Cuomo’s accomplishment pertains to same-sex marriage, an issue on which Mr. Obama has adopted an indecipherable position born of a cynical-seeming political calculus, makes the contrast sharper. And that it involved achieving cooperation from Republicans, something Mr. Obama has rarely received, makes it seem as though Mr. Cuomo has more effectively executed upon Mr. Obama’s “theory of change” than the president himself, demonstrating that articulating clear and unapologetic goals is not incompatible with persuading votes on the margins.
Whoever is the Democratic nominee in 2016, he or she will almost certainly endorse same-sex marriage, as about two-thirds of Democratic voters already do. But it’s unlikely that any of them will be able to better Mr. Cuomo’s accomplishment. Particularly if Mr. Obama loses next year, his [Cuomo’s] approach toward leadership is one that many Democratic voters will have an appetite for.
It’s important to realize that Nate’s view was a minority view, nearly nonexistent, at the beginning of the Obama administration. Joe, Chris and I started getting this sense right before the inauguration, and it was only confirmed by the early months of the administration and a number of the snafus we had on gay rights issues, but also on the President’s handling of the stimulus and health care reform. Our minority view has now become a vein of conventional wisdom in the Democratic party.
One other point: Note how Nate blithely mentions the possibility of Obama not winning re-election next year. That’s another theme you’re going to start hearing more about.
And finally, Nate was one of the “good guys,” so to speak. Along with Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, Nate often seemed more prone, shall we say, to write good things about the President, as compared to us, at least. Now you see Ezra, Matt and Nate writing increasingly critical pieces about the President’s handling of issues, but also his leadership style. Again, what was once a minority view is now becoming entrenched wisdom. And it’s not good for the President.