Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's to debate?

I didn't have high expectations when I voted for Obama. I didn't expect to agree with all his policies. But I did expect him to be a much more forceful leader than he turned out to be. It's increasingly clear, Obama needs news advisors:
As the economy worsens, President Obama and his senior aides are considering whether to adopt a more combative approach on economic issues, seeking to highlight substantive differences with Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail rather than continuing to pursue elusive compromises, advisers to the president say. [...]

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.
Are they joking? Indy's don't give a flying leap about patent protections and everybody outside of The Village hates trade agreements. Not a day goes by that I don't hear some con or so-called independent curse NAFTA. And this is so wrong:

So far, most signs point to a continuation of the nonconfrontational approach — better to do something than nothing — that has defined this administration. Mr. Obama and his aides are skeptical that voters will reward bold proposals if those ideas do not pass Congress. It is their judgment that moderate voters want tangible results rather than speeches.
The voters they're chasing respond to slogans and machismo. They don't get nuance and small accomplishments, especially when bold moves are clearly required, sure as hell aren't going to impress anybody. As Reuters so adroitly points out:
And opinion polls show that Obama's job approval ratings are edging downward even as members of his own Democratic Party grumble about his leadership and fault his willingness to make concessions to opposition Republicans in Congress. [...]

"He has a unique opportunity now to really make the case to the American people. Congress is home and it is a chance for him to try to build consensus around a bold alternative," said Romer, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. The Congress is on summer recess.
For a change, even the Congressional Dems get it. The Republicans are handing Obama a campaign issue on a golden platter and he refuses to take the gift. It doesn't matter if it passes Congress. Nothing useful is going to pass Congress because the GOPers have gone insane. As Steve Benen puts it so well:
Republicans respond to all of this by … not caring at all. Some may want a weaker economy on purpose, some are too blinded by ideology to consider objective information, some aren’t terribly bright, and some, as David Brooks recently noted, simply “do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities.”
What would work for Obama is to put forth a bold vision. Propose jobs bills instead of adopting GOP framing that government can't create jobs. Demand more short term stimulus spending to repair the economy and let the GOPers shoot it down. Draw the proverbial clear, bright line.

Jobs now, deal with the deficit later. Nobody outside of DC and the Tea Party cares about the deficit. If Obama is perceived as fighting to restore their economic security, he could reprise his 2008 victory all over again. It doesn't matter if he wins the fight. What matters is that he looks like he's fighting for the voters -- the workers -- instead of meekly caving to the Republicans in order to protect the investor class.

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