Friday, July 31, 2009

Is President Obama a weak and indecisive president?

Michael Barone has put his finger on something I've been wondering about with President Obama in a column entitled, "Obama has aura but doesn't know how to legislate."
Aura dazzles, but argument gets things done. Consider the debate on the Democrats' health care bill and the increasingly negative response to Barack Obama's performance. Democrats have the numbers to pass a health care bill -- 256 votes in the House, 38 more than the 218 majority; 60 votes in the Senate, enough to defeat a filibuster. But they haven't come up with the arguments, at least yet, to put those numbers on the board. It's something not many predicted that bright January inauguration morning.
Then he gives some reasons.
One reason perhaps is that he has had little practice. He served as a legislator for a dozen years before becoming president, but was only rarely an active one. He spent one of his eight years as an Illinois state senator running unsuccessfully for Congress and two of them running successfully for U.S. senator. He spent two of his years in the U.S. Senate running for president. During all of his seven non-campaign years as a legislator, he was in the minority party.

In other words, he's never done much work putting legislation together -- especially legislation that channels vast flows of money and affects the workings of parts of the economy that deeply affect people's lives. This lack of experience is starting to show. On the major legislation considered this year -- the stimulus, cap-and-trade, health care -- the Obama White House has done little or nothing to set down markers, to provide guidance, to establish boundaries and no-go areas.
I would go on to say that he's also indecisive and has a tendency to "lawyer" things to death. (I can speak from personal experience about lawyering things too much, being a lawyer myself.) That's not the trait one wants in their president, or chief executive of the federal government.

He can inspire people as he did during the campaign with his "hope" theme. (Especially true in our postmodern society where emotion replaces reason.) Eventually, one has to ask, "Where's the beef?" as Walter Mondale did with Gary Hart during the 1984 campaign. He may well get some form of expansion of health care passed given the overwhelming number of Democrats in Congress at this time. But this fundamental character weakness won't go away. He maybe able to grow in the job; he'll have to. But the underlying weakness won't be eliminated.

1 comment:

Claude said...

so you want our president to fail? to support your biased extremist choice of lifestyle?