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Your Daily Downer

It comes from John Harris and Jim Vandehei who come up with seven reasons for healthy skepticism about what Obama will be able to accomplish. I agree with most of them--especially the one they call the "genius fallacy"--but there's one that has me scratching my head:

5. He rarely challenges the home team.

Obama frequently talks of the need to transcend partisanship. And he invokes his support for charter schools — a not-terribly-controversial idea — as evidence that he is willing to challenge Democratic special interest groups.

In fact, there are few examples of him making decisions during the campaign or the transition that offended his own party’s constituencies, or using rhetoric that challenged his own supporters to rethink assumptions or yield on a favored cause.

Has Obama ever delivered a “Sister Souljah speech”? Ever stood up to organized labor in the way that Clinton did in passing North American Free Trade Agreement?

First, when did delivering a "Sister Souljah speech" become the sine qua non of transcending partisanship? In the grand scheme of things, rebuking a second-rate rapper in order to prove you can piss off Jesse Jackson doesn't really seem like the sort of thing that's terribly bold. What's more, Obama did deliver a speech that pissed off Jesse Jackson.

Second, Obama did a number of things during the transition that probably should have offended his own party's constituencies--from holding over Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense to inviting Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his Inaugural. That those constituencies have managed to put aside their grievances and continue to have such enthusiasm for Obama is a testament to his skill as a politician. It's strange to use a politician's unpopularity with people who should support him as a metric of that politician's success.

--Jason Zengerle