The president took a licking from a surprising source over the weekend. It came from The New York Times' Thomas Friedman, and it happened on "This Week."
I've worked here since 1989. I've personally just as a reporter, columnist in Washington, I've never seen a worse communicating administration, just at the basic technical level of, 'hey, we've got a good plan, you know, maybe someone out there would be interested in writing about it,' since I've been to Washington.
Friedman argues that Obama was elected as a reaction to George W. Bush, and that his mandate was to fix the economy.
Look, I'm for more health care. I'm glad we've extended it to more Americans. But the fact is there's a real, I think, argument for the case that Obama completely over-read his mandate when he came in. He was elected to get rid of one man's job, George Bush, and get the rest of us jobs. I think that was the core thing, and by starting with health care and not making his first year the year of innovation, expanding the economy and expanding jobs, you know, I think looking back, that was a political mistake.
He also says that Obama was elected for just one (different) thing.
To me, I think Barack Obama was elected for one thing - which I'm not sure he ever fully understood - to do nation building at home, to do nation building in America. That to me was the central tent pole. Under that was health care, jobs, you know, economy, innovation, education, energy, okay? He's never tied it together it seems to me under one single narrative. And then, therefore, he's fought each issue against a different constituency.
I don't think Obama cares about his mandate. He saw that, with solid majorities in both houses, he had a unique opportunity to pass revolutionary legislation that voters would oppose, and he wasn't willing to bypass being 'historic' in favor of taking care of Job One.