Despite Democrats' substantial majority in Congress, and President Obama's continuing personal popularity, there are still some conservatives in the party, and some vulnerable members, who would prefer not to be seen as too close to him.
They want to show some independence, resist some of the proposals -- like the stimulus package, and healthcare reform -- that might be most unpopular with some of the folks back home. That's just the normal way of doing business. But one House Democrat has now gone farther than that.
Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren has always been something of a maverick, an outsider in his party -- he's on the board of the NRA, was named to the League of Conservation Voters' "Dirty Dozen" list, opposes the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and even co-sponsored a bill to introduce the FairTax, a sales tax that would replace the federal income tax. Now, he's taking shots at Obama.
In an interview with a local paper, Boren called Obama "very unpopular," saying, “It would be a lot nicer if we had someone who was in the middle. Bill Clinton won our district. A lot of people don’t remember that, but he, in 1996, carried this district. I think if you have someone who governs from the middle, who’s pragmatic, who works with both parties. President Obama talks a lot about bipartisanship. If you look at some of the legislation, he may have one or two Republicans.”
In fairness to Obama, the lack of Republican votes on major legislation is as much or more about the constriction of the GOP, the lack of moderate Republicans in Congress and pressure from party leadership as it is about Obama and his fellow Democrats.
(Hat-tip to Glenn Thrush.)