The Obama paradox, by @DavidOAtkins

The Obama paradox

by David Atkins

One of the greatest frustrations of the Obama presidency has been that the tactical and political brilliance of Obama the Campaigner didn't seem to carry over to Obama the President. Obama the Campaigner understood how to speak to the middle class and address their concerns. Obama the President hasn't done as good a job.

Any longtime reader of this or most other progressive blogs will have no difficulty finding a long, long laundry list of policy and tactical complaints over the way the Administration has conducted its affairs.

The Obama campaign's latest swing state ad is just another reminder of this paradox:

It's beautiful. Brilliant. It lays the blame squarely on the previous Administration where it belongs, without being nasty or partisan about it which would turn off a lot of people. It's hopeful. Inspiring. Proud to mention the end of the Iraq War. Populist in its mention that America doesn't thrive without a thriving middle class. As a political observer, watching the ad gives me a rush of endorphins, not least because I know that the team that puts out ads like this is probably going to defeat Mitt Romney's more hapless crew.

But then I also know that once the campaign is over, Obama the Campaigner is going to go back to being Obama the President we know all too well: 1000% better than a Republican, but far too beholden to the economic status quo of protecting the system by prioritizing assets over wages, which in turn infects almost every piece of major legislation.

With Mitt Romney, we get Paul Ryan's radical Ayn-Rand inspired budget and social conservatism run rampant as he tries to win over the fundamentalists who distrust him. With Barack Obama, we likely get austerity-lite on economics but decent progress on social issues. It's an easy, no-brainer choice for most intelligent people, but it's still not a great one.

It would be nice if Obama the Campaigner could be Obama the President.