With friends like these …

There’s much to make you laugh in Howard Kurtz’s new Newsweek article about President Obama’s “populist makeover,” including the silly assertion that the president made serious attempts to work with Republicans after the 2010 election.

Still, the best parts focus on the criticism from the president’s “allies.”

Even some of Obama’s staunchest supporters acknowledge a perceived gap between promise and performance. They see a president who underestimated the challenge of the economic recovery and whose background as a law professor lacking real-life business experience left him unprepared to improvise on policy in a productive way.

It fell to top environmental adviser Carol Browner, for instance, to tell the president-elect early on why he couldn’t spend much more than $3 billion building a high-tech electrical grid. Browner knew all the obstacles, that local laws would have to be circumvented and permits obtained. You can’t just build power wires where you want, she explained to a frustrated Obama.

Andy Stern, who as the longtime head of the powerful SEIU union in 2008 relentlessly fought for Obama’s candidacy, sees a president who until recently tried to solve economic problems with abstract ideas rather than pragmatic solutions.

“The administration has suffered from the large macroeconomic theories of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner that look more at formula and financing than day-to-day job creation,” says Stern, an advocate of the repatriation holiday. “They thought they had done what they needed to do, and they were wrong.”

Democrats in Congress add to the indictment, charging that the president failed to sell his successes more aggressively, letting the opposition define them.

For some reason, the online version of this article omits the rest of the paragraph from the print version. In an effort to serve Locker Room readers, we rectify that omission:

”I think you need to talk about how poorly they do on message,” says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of the president and his advisers. “They can’t see around corners; they anticipate nothing.”

Criticism from political mastermind Nancy Pelosi? The situation must be really bad.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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