“They were the two competing elements in Barack Obama’s time in the Senate: his megawatt celebrity and the realities of the job he was elected to do. He went to the Senate intent on learning the ways of the institution, telling reporters he would be “looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.” But frustrated by his lack of influence and what he called the “glacial pace,” he soon opted to exploit his star power. He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.”
Outside Washington, Mr. Obama was a multimedia sensation — people offered free tickets to his book readings for $125 on eBay and contributed thousands of dollars each to his political action committee to watch him on stage questioning policy experts.
But inside the Senate, Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, was 99th in seniority and in the minority party his first two years. In committee hearings, he had to wait his turn until every other senator had asked questions. He once telephoned reporters himself to draw attention to his amendments. And some senior colleagues were cool to the newcomer, whom they considered naïve.
Opposition hit piece? No, it’s an early paragraph in today’s New York Times lead story about Barack Obama, star power and reality on Capitol Hill. “He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.” What a sad, sad statement.