Honeymoon Watch

By Dan Froomkin
2:17 PM ET, 01/27/2009

Even as he undoes the Bush legacy and moves forward in his own right, Obama has encountered a few obstacles. But are they speedbumps of the sort that he will inevitably encounter as he moves forward, or are they indications of eventual roadblocks that will stymie him completely? Is he clear-eyed in his vision, or is he living in a fantasy world that's about to shatter when it meets the reality of governing?

Some members of the White House press corps are already warning of what might be ahead.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times that "it did not take long for the new president to discover that there were limits to his power to turn his campaign rhetoric into reality. . . .

"[H]e wrestled with fresh challenges at every turn, found some principles hard to consistently apply and showed himself willing to be pragmatic -- at the risk of irking some supporters who had their hearts set on idealism."

Stolberg writes that "one man's flexibility is another man's wishy-washiness, and Mr. Obama's willingness to adapt carries the risk that he will either alienate his liberal base or fail to convert Republicans whose support he hopes to win."

Dan Eggen and Michael D. Shear write in The Washington Post that Obama and his aides are "facing a stark reality: Rolling back eight years of the Bush administration is not going to happen overnight.

"Obama's call for tougher vehicle emissions standards, for example, ran into immediate opposition from major business and auto industry groups. His plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison has angered Republicans who object to transferring suspected terrorists to U.S. facilities. Many of those same Republicans are also fighting his economic stimulus proposal, arguing that it is too costly and would ultimately be ineffective, while others have attacked his plan to quicken the pace of troop withdrawals from Iraq."

Eggen and Shear also acknowledge, however: "Obama appears to be without peer among modern presidents in terms of the number of broad policy pronouncements made during his first week in office. Many Republicans also note that Obama is in a much better political position than was Bush, who entered office in 2001 after a fiercely disputed election and faced a narrowly divided Congress. Even then, Bush was able to push through a massive and controversial package of tax cuts, though he had to offer some concessions to win Democratic support."

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