It's also something of a masterstroke. When liberal policies are massively failing before the world's eyes, when Keynesian madness is being exposed as the fraud that it is, what is the best way to divorce the results of the policies from the policies themselves? By pinning the problem on a personality.
Of course, the (sane, blessed) reality of the American political system is that power is kept in check, and no one branch can become too powerful. Thankfully the Constitution isn't yet so passe for this to not be the case. And, of course, this often means that the President isn't free to simply do as he pleases, which in turn means that (as always) there's some degree of truth to this lie. But what is actually happening is:
- Obama is sometimes forced to negotiate in order to get any kind of change, not because it's his desire to give up ground, but because he has no other choice given the confines of the system. But it's no more true of Obama's situation than any president with split Houses of Congress, and it was even less true during his first two years in office when the Democrats controlled both Houses.
- More often than not it's the right who gets the worst end of every deal, but the status quo is so strongly leftist that any small concession to the right looks rather massive to someone who doesn't recognize the standing imbalance. A continuation of the extant policies of Washington is virtually always a continuation of strongly liberal policies -- and this has been true since FDR, with only a semblance of a reprieve under Reagan -- so that any modest deviation in a rightward direction appears, understandably, massive. In reality, the concessions to the right are always minuscule or imaginary (such as 'cuts' in the budget which are actually budget increases slightly lessened, say from 9 trillion to 8 trillion).
- Obama actually did campaign on a promise to compromise and 'reach across the aisle' etc., so, to some extent, if he does look to make deals and give up some ground, he's simply keeping a campaign promise. Progressives voted for him knowing this was at least one element of his platform, and so they can't rightly complain even if he was often giving up ground (though he isn't).
By complaining about Obama's negotiating skills and Republican obstructionism ad nauseum -- despite the relative irrelevance (or non-existence) of both -- the left gives itself what we call in the gambling world a 'freeroll'. If leftist policies and Democrat rule continue to result in predictable calamities, then the problem was Obama's personal flaws -- too willing to negotiate, too deferential, too weak etc. -- George Bush's legacy, and the Tea Party, not the actual policies of the left. If, however, we start to see some miraculous recovery in the economy, the narrative can quickly switch back to the soundness of the left's policies that have been implemented. With the latter being extremely unlikely to happen, it's wiser for the talking heads to focus on the excuses of the former.
In any case, none of this has any effect on how we conservatives view Obama. His policy agenda is disastrous, no matter how efficient he may or may not be at implementing it. It's just amusing the contortions the left will go through in order to retain fidelity to their obviously wrongheaded ideals.
By the left's own current refuse-to-give-ground-at-all-costs standard, Bill Clinton should be considered a terrible Democratic president, yet the left champions his record every chance they get (to some extent, rightly). Why? Because by giving ground, by being forced to work with a Republican Congress, by having his more progressive agenda somewhat thwarted, he actually got results. This is what happens when Democrats are actually forced to compromise and capitulate (or, better yet, when they're kept from doing anything at all), and this is precisely what is not happening today.