Yes, I know. Sometimes you wonder if there is such a thing. But I believe Mr. Obama could be that man. But he hasn’t been; yet.
I think I have become increasingly harsh toward our Democrat friends over the past few weeks. I am usually at least attempting to be balanced in my writing, though I freely admit I am a Republican and a Conservative. I am not sure if I have become too extreme or not in my criticsms; I hope not. I have resisted attacking President Obama at all costs, though I have viciously attacked his proposals. That is especially true because he has a huge mess on his hands, and it is largely not his fault.
But what angered me, especially about the Stimulus Bill, was the lack of debate on the issue both in Congress and in the mainstream press. In the last few days since the bill passed Congress, you have seen more debate than before the bill passed. To all of those people I am referring to, I say: ‘Too little, too late’.
This was a bill that more than any other since the Iraq War Resolution really needed to be discussed, debated, fought out, and thought out rationally. And I know that even my liberal friends are not under the misconception that this is a rational bill. It is an emotional bill, with pork thrown in for good measure. It was the political equivalent of a knee-jerk reaction.
The great thing about being President? You get a lot of second chances. Obama must now learn the hard earned lessons of the way this stimulus package was handled, and carry that wisdom to future endeavours.
First lesson? Don’t let the extreme left, include Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, write any bill you support. Let them have a voice but write the bill in the White House as much as possible. Look, Mr. Obama is a liberal, and will lead that way. But the problem with the Stimulus Bill wasn’t simply that it was liberal; it was old fashioned politics at its worst, with infighting, haggling, and lobbyists writing provisions in the dead of night, without Republican involvement, and little or no public disclosure.
Second lesson? Mr. Obama must lead. It was a failure of leadership that made this legislation appear so lackluster in public appeal. If he had dictated to both House and Senate Democrats that it was his way or the high way, they would have followed. And I still believe that Mr. Obama’s proposals would have gotten more bipartisan support that the ridiculous bill that came out of Congress.
Third? Talk less in public, and more in basic verbage. I and others are starting to feel the Obama media overload starting. It seemed like he was giving a press conference daily; that is unnecessary. Instead, he would be better served by getting his thoughts known through intermediaries, and only come out when absolutely necessary. It would provide his voice more impact. Additionally, he needs to reduce the level of the rhetoric. During the campaign, he created levels of euphoria that set a standard that, in the real world, cannot be met. Look at his speech today at the stimulus bill signing:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I will sign today – a plan that meets the principles I laid out in January – is the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.
Maybe he forgot about FDR’s New Deal. But why does he have to go over the top? This bill is a major success for the new President. He doesn’t need to exaggerate the accomplishment. He is now President; that forces him to be a real leader in the real world. Giving uplifiting rhetoric has its place. But to just have one’s head in the clouds is another matter. His inauguration speech actually set the right tone; somber and realistic, which is appropriate for the times.
I think the most important lesson Mr. Obama can learn is that if he wants true bipartisanship (which, is an almost impossible goal, I admit), he must be willing to actually listen and debate the other side. He will not accept many of the Republican proposals; that is a given. But in this process, he basically dictated to the Republicans. Why should they support anything from a man basically telling them to shut up? It was a foreboding sign when Republican moderates like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, both who were willing to work at the outset with Obama, felt left out of the process. Obama has nothing to lose, and much to gain, by including moderate Republicans in the discussion. He made symbolic gestures, without giving them the one thing they really wanted: a voice. Sure, the Republicans will eventually have to captiulate. But Mr. Obama came in with the pretense that the Republicans would capitulate simply because he is, well, Barack Obama. A little give in his stance could provide big dividends in the long run.
The Stimulus Package took a lot of the oxygen out of the beltway. But there is plenty to be done. The home foreclosure crisis, TARP II, and possibly a second stimulus package will be discussed. As time goes on, Obama will have to depend on Republicans more, not less. He was able to get the first stimulus deal through largely because of the good feelings from his inauguration. But the honeymoon period is finite, and with the economy receding quickly, the time for Obama to claim victories on persona alone is also limited.