My niece had her bat mitzvah Monday in New York, and it gave me a chance to catch up with various relatives. My immediate family is all conservative or libertarian, but, as one my expect from a Jewish New York-based family, many of my other relatives are very liberal.
I don't like to talk politics at bat mitzvahs, but, I think because I'm the "Washington cousin," several relatives started talking to me about it. Rather than debating, I tried to "take their temperature."
My liberal relatives still love Obama. Two I spoke to worked for Obama's campaign. They still hold out a lot of hope for Obama. But they are disappointed in him. Obviously, they are disappointed that his poll numbers are falling, and he may not be able to achieve some liberal goals they support. But they also expressed disappointment that Obama hasn't delivered the change he promised. In fact, the folks I spoke to seemed a bit bewildered that business goes an just as it did before in D.C. They would have liked Obama to insist that the budget bill he signed in March was not bloated with earmarks. They don't like how he's been making deal with all the health care special interests. And so on.
I'm disappointed in Obama, too. I expected him to be a liberal. I expected to disagree with him on most issues. But I hoped that either good government ("goo-goo") liberalism or raw political calculus (like the Republicans in 1995) would lead him to keep some of his non-ideological promises, like on earmarks, transparency, and so on. I even hoped, consistent with his promise of a net spending cut, that he'd show more fiscal responsibility than Bush did, which isn't hard to do; surely there are government programs out there that don't serve liberal ideological ends and could be cut. He lost whatever good will or benefit-of-the-doubt I was inclined to give him by neglecting, backtracking, or going back on his word on all these issues.
The Obama administration has treated Obama's promise of changing the way business is done in DC as a distraction from his legislative agenda. I suspect they'll come to regret that perspective.