What does Fineman mean, ‘us’?

WHAT DOES FINEMAN MEAN, ‘US’?…. Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman believes President Obama may be facing “a turning tide” that will make his job more difficult. What kind of tide? According to Fineman, “the American establishment” — his phrase, not mine — isn’t satisfied.

Luckily for Obama, the public still likes and trusts him, at least judging by the latest polls, including NEWSWEEK’s. But, in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking. […]

If the establishment still has power, it is a three-sided force, churning from inside the Beltway, from Manhattan-based media and from what remains of corporate America…. The American people remain on his side, but he has to be careful that the gathering judgment of the Bigs doesn’t trickle down to the rest of us.

His column lists a dozen things “the establishment” would like to see Obama do. Some of the items on the wish list contradict each other, but if the president wants to please “the big shots” — again, Fineman’s phrase, not mine — Obama should use this column as a to-do list. (It’s tempting to go point by point through the whole list — Jamison Foser has more patience than I do — but rest assured, Fineman’s dozen points are largely predictable and misleading.)

It’s all terribly odd. The key takeaway from Fineman’s column is the notion that the president is in a tough spot. Obama needs to shift his priorities because the American electorate likes what they see in their president, but Big Business, NYC media, and DC insiders “are finding him lacking.”

And their collective disappointment might “trickle down to the rest of us,” as if Fineman is on our side of the great establishment divide.

I can imagine a column in which a political observer urges a leader to worry less about the elite establishment and more about the opinions of the American mainstream. I never thought I’d see a column arguing the opposite.