I think one of the things that may be hindering him is that he’s so aware that he is the change — that it’s such a break with our history to elect a black President — and that’s such an odd thing to some people and that’s why they’re calling him “not an American” or “socialist” or “fascist” or whatever — that he wants to emphasize continuity almost to a fault. So even though he came to national attention by opposing the Iraq War, he appointed his Secretary of State (someone who voted for the Iraq War), his Vice-President (someone who voted for the Iraq War), his Secretary of Defense (someone who conducted the Iraq War), the two generals in Afghanistan (who conducted the Iraq War). That’s continuity, all right! But is it the continuity that we need?
And then I noticed that the same thing was happening in other things. He wanted to face up to the banking problems. So he put in Geithner and Summers and Bernanke — the same people who got us into the banking problems. He wanted to bring us healthcare. And the first people he invited into the White House were the AMA, big pharma, the insurance companies. And he actually said, foolishly, “This is the first time we’ve had all these people on our side.” They weren’t on his side; they were snookering him. So I think that his rhetoric of a post-racial, post-partisan, post-blue-state-red-state America is just unrealistic. And the Republican Party has played him for a fool.
Interview on Conversations With History