The Box

THE BOX....So now Barack Obama is parroting the "Social Security crisis" line and pandering to the mining industry in the early primary state of Nevada? Ugh.

In fairness, Obama's problem is that he's put himself in a box. He's campaigning as a straight talker, which means that even small, routine panders open him up to attacks as a hypocrite. He's campaigning as the guy who can bring us together, which means that even a modest bit of trash talking provokes squeals from the press corps. He's campaigning as the candidate of fresh, bold ideas, which means that any time he presents a sensible but routine policy idea he takes a hit for being the same old wine with nothing but a new label on the bottle. And he's further hurt by the fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign is brilliantly ruthless at taking advantage of all this.

But politics is what it is, and Obama is in a box whether he likes it or not. When you're selling yourself as the candidate of idealism, small deviations disappoint your followers more than big deviations from more conventional candidates. This is why idealistic candidates virtually never win. So far Obama hasn't figure out a way to escape this box, and he doesn't have much time left.


Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App