Current Issues

Obama’s rhetorical power reconsidered

Posted on August 9, 2011

Here is a spirited defense of Obama from Jonathan Chait in his tear down of the NY Times op ed piece by Drew Weston: http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/93323/drew-westens-nonsense.

He is certainly right about Obama having to fend off Republican attempts to water down his political proposals and initiatives, but he fails to recognize that Obama has played into that dynamic by conceding too much out of the gate on every occasion (How quickly did single payer survive in the health care debate?) and by letting his desire for bipartisanship trump a willingness to come out strong on almost any issue, inexplicable really as the right wing has shown not an iota of the same sentiment.

Also ignored has been Obama’s desire to stay above the fray, letting Congress work things out and then coming in at the 11th hour when it is too late to shape the debate.  Again and again, he concedes the narrative by failing to offer a strong, persuasive case at the start and then pounding it home. 

Chait scores some valid points, but Weston remains essentially right in my view.

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