Current Issues

The Obama failure

Posted on August 8, 2011

It is no secret that Pat and I were enthusiastic supporters of Barack Obama and I will for the rest of my life remember election night as a monumental milestone in America’s troubled history on race, but I have been deeply frustrated by his failings as a president.  While he stopped the country’s (and maybe the world’s) slide into full-blown depression, passed a major tax cut for most Americans, and extended medical coverage for millions of people, the population has shrugged at the first item, is mostly unaware of the second, and angry at the third.

While he is at times unmatched in his oratorical skills, he has been unable to tell the story of his own successes.  Admittedly,  he always had a certain kind of emotional distance — the “cool prince” quality often described — but he has displayed a marked inability to connect with every day people and to help them understand what he is trying to do.  He has proven even more inept at framing the narratives that drive American public opinion on a myriad of issues.

And what is he trying to do?  He is proving himself one of the world’s worst negotiators and starts every debate at the center, meaning that any outcome skews to the right. 

 If you read no other analysis of his performance, read this one in yesterday’s NY Times:

It feels wholly on target.

While you are at it, check out Paul Krugman today:

While I think S&P’s mirror to the nation’s financial stability is accurate, they have NO moral authority for weighing in on the question after their complicity in the mortgage backed security Ponzi scheme that brought down the economy.  It is as hypocritical as those Republicans that looked the other way and voted to run up the deficit under Bush now pretending to be responsible deficit hawks (that goes for you too, Judd Gregg).  The hypocricy extends to Democrats who forge that the deregulation and the 2009 repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act helped set the stage for the Wall street abuses that followed.  There has been an abject lack of leadership from both parties.

Krugman  does provide some calming reassurance for the feeling of “there’s no way to solve this puzzle” paralysis that often halts discussions over the economic mess.  Reform health care with real cost controls (something Obama’s plan did not do), raise taxes on the wealthy, put people back to work.  Control spending, find new revenues, get productive.  Common sense stuff.  If only we could find capable, authentic leaders willing to do the common sense stuff that most people on the street understand.

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