The Audacity of AngerPosted: October 30, 2010
It’s only been two rotations ’round the sun–a gnat’s life in the grand scheme of things–since the Obama surge swept over the District beltway. Two years represent eons in political schemes. The election isn’t until Tuesday, but the obits have already been written.
Can you honestly say that you’ll be happy with fewer feminist women in Washington and a Speaker of the House Boehner? (Also implying the first woman in that position was ill-suited?) This is a much bigger mess than even we conceived.
I read the latest issue of The Economist like one read’s an obit or the day-after-the game analysis. It correctly identified the root source of a lot of the anger; the economy. It also listed some good decisions like appointing Hillary Clinton SOS and quieting some of the cowboy foreign policy swagger. It also lists mistakes and rightly quantifies some of the major mishaps; like mismanaging expectations of economic recovery.
So what went wrong? The answer is a series of smaller things—rhetoric, details, execution, even an aloof vagueness—that have cumulatively undermined his presidency. He has made enemies of the businessmen who are needed to drive forward America’s recovery, haranguing them as fat cats and speculators. He has even, as we report here, forfeited the goodwill of America’s most dynamic and entrepreneurial asset. Silicon Valley, which once saw Mr Obama as a promising start-up, now sees him as a bad investment.
His decision to leave details to others has also cost him dearly. By choosing to subcontract the stimulus, health reform and finance reform to the Democratic leadership, he ended up with shoddy bills that Republicans could safely vote against and that many Democrats are now anxious to distance themselves from. A more accomplished president would have controlled that process better, and found ways to make the Republicans offers that they could not refuse.
Now this is where I begin to part ways. First, the problem has not been Obama’s ‘anti-business’ stand, it’s been his selective pre-occupation with the financial sector and disinterest in other areas of commerce; including what creates jobs. Second, it’s pretty obvious that there’s only a handful of Republicans that will go along with ANYthing. They’ve gotten a lot of Republican policy and they’ve continually said no.
Krugman’s last NYT op-ed ‘Divided We Lose’ did an excellent job showing exactly how little we can expect after the election. We didn’t get change recently and we sure won’t get change now.
Another recent interview by National Journal, this one with Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has received a lot of attention thanks to a headline-grabbing quote: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
If you read the full interview, what Mr. McConnell was saying was that, in 1995, Republicans erred by focusing too much on their policy agenda and not enough on destroying the president: “We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him. By the summer of 1995, he was already on the way to being re-elected, and we were hanging on for our lives.” So this time around, he implied, they’ll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama.
True, Mr. McConnell did say that he might be willing to work with Mr. Obama in certain circumstances — namely, if he’s willing to do a “Clintonian back flip,” taking positions that would find more support among Republicans than in his own party. Of course, this would actually hurt Mr. Obama’s chances of re-election — but that’s the point.
We might add that should any Republicans in Congress find themselves considering the possibility of acting in a statesmanlike, bipartisan manner, they’ll surely reconsider after looking over their shoulder at the Tea Party-types, who will jump on them if they show any signs of being reasonable. The role of the Tea Party is one reason smart observers expect another government shutdown, probably as early as next spring.
Plus, and this is my third beef, there’s been no course correction or accountability demanded for many of the worst Bush Administration excesses. There’s been no attempts to address the horrid war crimes and civil liberties abuses. The only glimpses we’ve seen have come from Wikileaks and whistle blowers.
It’s hard to say this, but I’m even less optimistic than I was two years ago. The economy is not good. No politician seems able to understand the issues facing the middle class. It’s just going to be more political in-fighting and I don’t see how that’s really going to move us forwards. Let’s just say I know who the losers will be already too.