Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama's Post-Partisan Wimp Factor

From Doyle McManus's commentary yesterday at the Los Angeles Times:

The debate about how big the federal government should be has been at the core of American politics since the Articles of Confederation. In his inaugural address, Obama dismissed it as one of "the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long," but it's too fundamental a question to wave away, even in the face of a crisis as big as this one.
From Jacob Weisberg's column at Newsweek:

Obama's vagueness about the federal role comes at a moment when clarity is especially needed. Our government is about to become bigger, more powerful and more expensive in order to deal with a sprawling economic crisis. Washington will take on responsibilities it hasn't shouldered in 75 years, such as directly alleviating unemployment and perhaps nationalizing banks. Many who would ordinarily reject such interventions on principle can justify them as misery relief, Keynesian stimulus or emergency management. But some see in the expansion something further-reaching—a redefinition of the government's relationship to markets transcending the current crisis.
Is Barack Obama an ideological wimp? Is the new president actually too chicken to take a firm stand on a vigorous policy program for fear of alienating GOP partisans and voters in the political middle? For someone who's seemed so self-confident in his abilities and ideas, these questions bear consideration.

In 1987, Newsweek hammered George H.W Bush with a cover story featuring the headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor." Bush 41 was no wimp, by any measure, but as Ronald Reagan's (likely) successor, he had a big presidency to follow.

Barack Obama should not be struggling with ideological wimpiness. He's probably won the closest thing to a policy mandate since Lyndon Johnson's landslide of 1964. His predecessor's been repudiated by the leftist media establishment, and the general public is skeptical that Bush 43 will win a big legacy.

But as the quotes above suggest, President Obama, aka "The One," is looking to be stymied by perhaps the shortest presidential honeymoon in memory. This not the time, from the Democrats' perspective, for weak knees. The first 100 days is when you get what you want, and if there was ever a national suspension of disbelief, it's now - we're in the moment of a new-age presidential love fest. Obama should have little worry at this point of alienating centrists, much less his partisan opponents. Obama's got a plan, and it's amazing he's not taking advantage of his bully pulpit to push it through like, well, a man.

It's time to get down to some legislative business. If you're not going to fight, get out of the ring.


Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

Funny, I just called the Republicans in the House and the Senate "wimps."

Average American said...

I see and hear almost as much from that wicked witch Pelosi than I do from the messiah. As much as I hate to see and hear him on the television all the time, I hate seeing her even more. She actually makes me feel ill! If she wins some kind of power struggle against him-----nah, can't happen, or can it?