From NBC's Mark Murray
As we mentioned earlier today, pundits on the left and right are criticizing President Obama's efforts on health care. Paul Krugman says the message is lacking; Peggy Noonan argues that Obama is losing (or has already lost) the debate; and Eugene Robinson writes that Democrats are lacking energy.
And all with good reason -- the president's poll numbers are declining, his opponents are invigorated, and the chances for health reform don't seem to be as good as they were a couple of months ago.
But we've been here before, right?
Here was Krugman back in August of 2008: "[T]he problem isn't lack of specifics -- it's lack of passion. When it comes to the economy, Mr. Obama's campaign seems oddly lethargic. I was astonished at the flatness of the big economy speech he gave in St. Petersburg at the beginning of this month -- a speech that was billed as the start of a new campaign focus on economic issues. Mr. Obama is a great orator, yet he began that speech with a litany of statistics that were probably meaningless to most listeners."
Here was Noonan in late August '08 before the conventions (and after Obama's subpar performance in that Rick Warren forum): "Why is it a real race now, with John McCain rising in the polls and Barack Obama falling? There are many answers, but here I think is an essential one: The American people have begun paying attention."
And here was Robinson around the same time: "If they want to win in November, Democrats have one task to accomplish this week: Snap out of it. Somehow, tentativeness and insecurity have infected a party that ought to be full of confident swagger. It's not that Democrats don't like their odds of winning the presidency and boosting their majorities in both houses of Congress. It's that they are even bothering to calculate and recalculate those odds."
The hand-wringing, doubts, and skepticism of August 2008, however, later turned into Obama's decisive seven-point victory in November.
Of course, campaigning -- especially when the outgoing president and his party were incredibly unpopular -- is much different than governing -- when no one (the left and right) seems particularly happy with you. But if the White House is able to pull out a victory on health care in the fall, history will have repeated itself.