The discrepancy between candidate Obama’s rhetoric and President Obama’s words and deeds is not explainable only in terms of the inevitable exaggerations and omissions that characterize electoral politics… Candidate Obama did not merely obscure the policy implications of his principles. He obscured his principles as well.
…The simple explanation for the cultivated ambiguity is that Obama feared that if he clarified his intentions he would lose the election…
In the annals of American progressivism, Obama’s predicament is hardly unique… Like Obama’s new progressivism, the old or original progressivism championed a vision of democracy that sometimes conflicted with ordinary people’s opinions and preferences. [But] The old progressives often realized it and said as much. One of the distinguishing marks of the new progressivism at whose head Obama stands is the determination to conceal the gap between what majorities want and what progressive leaders want to enact in their name while insisting proudly on the purity of their democratic credentials.
From Berkowitz, Peter. 2010. “Obama and the State of Progressivism, 2011.” Policy Review 164 (December-January): 3-25.