Obama and Nutter – Two skippers with that sinking feeling
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
What might the conversation be like if Barack Obama and Michael Nutter cracked open a bottle of Yard’s ale together? In today’s Center Square commentary, Chris Satullo suggests they could compare notes on a lot of woes.
I have it on pretty good authority that Barack Obama isn’t fond of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
That’s what happens when a mayor backs a president’s opponent in a key state primary.
It’s too bad, because the two could have an interesting chat over beers. Each finds himself in a similar fix.
Each rode to victory on the enthusiasm of idealistic, younger voters who were avid for reform. Unfortunately, those young fans were naïve about how reform happens in the real world. Which is to say, slowly and messily.
As practical politicians, Obama and Nutter knew that, to get anything done, you have to horse-trade with the protectors of the status quo. If you don’t, the legislative pashas know how to thwart you at every turn. But their young fans were shocked by the sight of the sausage getting made.
Then again, Obama and Nutter did fuel unrealistic expectations, with all the oratorical crescendos about change and the frisky ads about turning City Hall upside down and shaking out the bums like so many flakes of oregano.
Each has compounded their woes through clumsy political messaging. Their inability to tell a coherent, compelling story about what they’re doing means their considerable successes are less understood and less discussed than their stumbles.
Most of all, each gets hammered from all corners of the political ballyard for the pain of a bad economy that is, truth be told, neither’s fault. Each has grappled reasonably well – not masterfully, but reasonably well – with the bad economic hands they were dealt. But neither gets much credit for that. In these anxious times, people just fixate on the lousy cards.
Obama has to put up with more nonsense and defamation. Nobody questions Nutter’s birth, his religion, or likens him to a goose-stepper or a gulag-maker. On the other hand, Nutter has to put up with John Street.
Bottom line, each man is termed a disappointment, even by friends. Each, I think, is being unfairly judged. Each, I predict, will find a way to be re-elected – given how flawed their potential opponents are.
The real question is whether they can ever regain the mojo that once had us thinking they were something special.