Robert Reich has it right:
Why is Obama not using the bully pulpit? Perhaps he no longer trusts that Americans will hear him. Whatever the reason—that he’s embroiled in the tactical maneuvers that pass for policy-making, or intent on preserving political capital for the next skirmish, or cynical about how the media will relay or distort his message—he doesn’t try. ...Politics is always disappointing, always filled with compromise. But it's not always like this. Barack Obama and Harry Reid wasted 2009. They should have killed the filibuster, told Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to go fuck themselves, and passed a truly Democratic program - $1.5 trillion in stimulus with a much higher proportion of public works and infrastructure spending, a much more progressive income tax, an end to hedge fund managers only paying 15% on their income, inheritance taxes, major banking reform (motivated by a drumbeat of prosecutions, perp walks, and prison for the Wall St. abusers), health reform that at least included a public option and started right away, faster withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.
[H]e allows himself to be trapped by situations (the debt-ceiling imbroglio most recently) within which he tries to offer reasonable responses, rather than be the leader who shapes the circumstances from the start. He cannot mobilize Americans around the truth, in other words, because he is continuously adapting to the prevailing view. That’s not what Americans thought they were getting when they elected Obama president.
We need more Democrats who'll stand up to Republicans and their teabagger mainstream. Extreme conservatism is not sweeping the country. It swept the 2010 mid-term election because American voters lashed out stupidly in the wrong direction - or stayed home while the wingnuts voted their favorite ignoramuses into office.
If you're going to be a one-term President - a fate that I think awaits Obama in 2012 - you should at least govern on behalf of the people who elected you.