Opinion: Why the Greg Craig debacle matters

posted by Ogenec

A critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man. Most significant, these doubters now find themselves with a new reluctance to defend Obama at a phase of his presidency when he needs defenders more urgently than ever.

By ELIZABETH DREW

President Barack Obama is returning from his trek to Asia Thursday to a capital that is a considerably more dangerous place for him than when he departed.

While he was abroad, there was a palpable sense at home of something gone wrong

A critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man. Most significant, these doubters now find themselves with a new reluctance to defend Obama at a phase of his presidency when he needs defenders more urgently than ever.

This is the price Obama has paid with his complicity and most likely his active participation, in the shabbiest episode of his presidency: The firing by leaks of White House counsel Gregory Craig, a well-respected Washington veteran and influential early supporter of Obama.

The people who are most aghast by the handling of the Craig departure can’t be dismissed by the White House as Republican partisans, or still-embittered Hillary Clinton supporters. They are not naïve activists who don’t understand that the exercise of power can be a rough business and that trade-offs and personal disappointments are inevitable. Instead, they are people, either in politics or close observers, who once held an unromantically high opinion of Obama. They were important to his rise, and are likely more important to the success or failure of his presidency than Obama or his distressingly insular and small-minded West Wing team appreciate.

The Craig embarrassment gives these people a new reason – not the first or only reason – to conclude that he wasn’t the person of integrity and even classiness they had thought, and, more fundamentally, that his ability to move people and actually lead a fractured and troubled country (the reason many preferred him over Hillary Clinton) is not what had been promised in the campaign.

Craig’s ouster did not occur in a vacuum. It served as a focal point to concerns that have been building for months that Obama wasn’t pressing for all that might be possible within the existing political constraints (all that one could ask of a president); that his presidential voice hadn’t fulfilled the hopes raised by his campaign voice (which had also taken him a while to find); that he hadn’t created a movement, as he had raised expectations that he would; that would be there to back him up and help him fulfill his promises.

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Filed under Bad Journalism, Chicago, IL, Democrats, Editorial, Law, Opinions, Republicans, Uncategorized, Washington, DC

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