Until next January 20 Obama gets to bask in the glow of his election victory. He’s not responsible for Executive Branch screwups. He doesn’t have to make difficult public decisions or publicly reconcile incompatible demands from competing constituencies. Even though he is already deeply involved in the automobile industry bailout and other important issues as the President-elect, he can operate largely out of the public eye. His predecessor will get most of the blame for policy errors made during this period. Everyone likes Obama — including Republicans, since they have not yet been punished by his policies and, like the guy who is passing the tenth floor after falling from a 50th-floor window, still have that “so far so good” feeling.
All of this changes after Obama is inaugurated and has to start making public decisions and disappointing his supporters. The media will continue to cover for him, but many members of the voting public have high expectations and will be quick to complain when he lets them down. I hope that he does a good job, but so does everyone else, and that includes a lot of people with conflicting expectations.
Interesting times ahead.