Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Obama a leader, or a follower?

This is from Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish:

Unlike many liberal blogs, I'm encouraged by the spending freeze and thrilled by the debt commission idea. But to my mind, none of this makes any sense unless Obama passes a core political test.

Does he have the courage to insist that healthcare reform is not dead? Does he use his clout to pressure the Senate to give the House some signs that the reconciliation strategy can work? Does he use every ounce of political capital to pass this bill, the cornerstone of his reform agenda, the failure of which will mean the end to any grappling with the health insurance crisis for another generation.

If he cannot do that, if he punts on this bill, or if he is passive and uncommitted, then those of us who placed hope in his leadership skills will have to acknowledge we hoped too much. The test of leadership is sometimes staying a course even when all the polls and pols have turned against it on a dime. There are times when a president should preside; but there are also times when he must lead.

I have one simple test: if the health bill dies from neglect and irresolution, Obama is no leader.

He is a follower. He cannot vote present on this one. He has majorities in both Houses and a landslide victory and he is unable to deliver on a core priority in his first year. That's a definition of a failed presidency and it is why the GOP - with nothing to offer the country - decided to make it his Waterloo. They knew and know how gutting this bill and killing reform and suffocating any serious change in this country is their way to a nihilist victory. And such a victory would not be a vindication of Republican policy right now. It would be a perfectly reasonable response to a Democratic party palpably incapable of governing and a president clearly unable to deliver.

If he cannot do this, he does not have the fortitude to be a successful president. And his weakness on this will be rightly interpreted as weakness everywhere else. That applies to foreign policy as well, with Netanyahu and Khamenei and Chavez and Sarkozy all watching to see what this guy is made of.

These are dark times as the forces of reaction and resistance redouble their efforts to prevent any reform on any issue. Obama was elected to break through that impasse. If he cannot deliver, he must cede to someone who can.

There were two major issues that defined the first year of Obama's presidency. The first issue was the economic stimulus plan. I'm not surprised that the plan passed, considering that the U.S. economy was sinking into a deep recession, and both Congress and the president had to do something to show the American people that they were trying to tackle the serious economic problems--irregardless of the GOP obstructionism, and Republican wet dreams of seeing this president fail. The second issue was health care. Health care was an issue that was brought up in the 2008 elections, and President Obama made it a centerpiece in his campaign agenda. But throughout the first year of his administration, I never really saw President Obama express any strong leadership in the health care debate. President Obama never really presented an agenda, or a bill, expressing what health care reform should be--it was almost like Congress had to draft health care reform through committee, and now we've got a health care reform bill that nobody likes. President Obama never used the bully pulpit to press the need for health care reform, to attack GOP obstructionism of health care reform, death panel fears, or rumors that "Obamacare" would take away grandma's Medicare. If anything, President Obama ceded the debate on health care to the Republicans, who were more than happy to bash Obama and the Democrats with a 2X4. Finally, I don't think I ever saw President Obama get mad. There are times when a president has to be calm, cool, and collected in making policy decisions. But there are also times when a president will have to use his own 2x4 to force congressmen, or opponents, to submit to his will. When was the last time you saw President Obama take Joe Lieberman to the back of the woodshed?

This is going to be the most important speech President Obama could ever make in his political career--this speech will determine whether Obama will become a one-term president. President Obama will have to come out and crack congressional skulls in order to pass his health care reform. President Obama needs to show this country that he is a leader, not a follower. If health care reform dies, then President Obama has become a failed leader. Republicans will become even more empowered in their obstructionism, sending this country further into the toilet for their crass greed of political power--I'm sorry, but the Republican Party does not believe in the good of the country. Independents will leave him. They bought the Obama campaign message of change. However, since President Obama could not deliver such change in his first year, then why should independents continue to support him? Finally, I think that Democrats will become disillusioned and angry. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is angry at President Obama for not being progressive or liberal enough on the health care bill. Moderate Democrats may become disillusioned because they hoping for a charismatic leader, but ended up voting an empty suit in the White House? Again, I'm looking at the Massachusetts and Oregon special elections, and I see a populist anger slowly growing against the way our current leaders are badly behaving in the government. President Obama has shown his own bad behavior in that he has failed in providing strong leadership to the country. If Obama doesn't turn this around quickly enough, then he is going to be more than just a mediocre one-term president. President Obama will become another failed leader.

This country cannot afford to keep electing failed leaders into the White House.

1 comment:

籃球 said...