Friday, March 4, 2011

President Path-of-Least-Resistance

I read a day or two ago that Obama’s new political-team tandem—William Daley and David Plouffe—have decided that Obama won’t respond anymore to the incessant Republican propaganda in support of their agenda and will instead wait and then respond all at once. They said they learned this was a good idea because Obama was ineffectual in his first two years when he kept making appearances here and there, and on this TV show and that.

My reactions was: Anymore?

On every policy issue—the economic stimulus law, the healthcare debate, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy—he waited months and months to respond to the Republican and Tea Party torrent of misinformation and slogans, until he’d already long ago lost any chance to win these debates. And then, with the single exception of a televised speech gave, kicking and screaming after almost having a gun held to his head, in Sept. 2009, he never actually made arguments in specific terms, using facts and statistics. Instead, he just appeared here and there and said a few generic sentences. So of course he was totally ineffectual.

I certainly agree with Daley and Plouffe that he needs to make a single real, thorough rebuttal of the Republican policy agenda and argument in support of his own policy agenda. But if he waits to do that until the no one is listening, and unless he actually uses specifics—facts and statistics rather than an anecdote or two—then the conclusion of the budget debate is foregone.

If he really believes that the outcome of that debate will determine the country’s future, then he needs to explain to the public how, and why. In specifics. But he won’t. It would take too much effort and look too partisan.

And, well, first things first.

These days I call him President Path-of-Least-Resistance.

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