Obama isolated ahead of 2012 – POLITICO.com Print View

Obama isolated ahead of 2012
By: Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei
November 8, 2010 04:30 AM EST

President Barack Obama has performed his act of contrition. Now comes the hard part, according to Democrats around the country: reckoning with the simple fact that he’s isolated himself from virtually every group that matters in American politics.

Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized.

His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse. Obama has suggested it’s a PR problem, but several Democratic officials said CEOs friendly with the president walk away feeling he’s indifferent at best to their concerns. Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

It should be a no-brainer for a humbled Obama to move quickly after Tuesday’s thumping to try to repair these damaged relations, and indeed, in India on Sunday, he acknowledged the need for “midcourse corrections.”

But many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.

In his effort to change Washington, Obama has failed to engage Washington and its institutions and customs, leaving him estranged from the capital’s permanent power structure — right at the moment when Democrats say he must rethink his strategy for cultivating and nurturing relations with key constituencies ahead of 2012.

“This guy swept to power on a wave of adulation, and he learned the wrong lessons from that,” said a Democratic official who deals frequently with the White House. “He’s more of a movement leader than a politician. He needs someone to kick his ass on things large and small and teach him to be a politician.”

that’s some hope and change…

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