As I may flesh this notion out in a further post, I’m including it in the “Random Thoughts” category.
After reading the news and blogs last night and this morning in my Kettleman City hotel (due a late start last night from San Francisco (allowing me to spend more time with my Mom & nephew) and bad traffic in and around San Jose, I decided to overnight in the Central Valley) and listening to the President’s speech earlier today in the Hoosier State, I had this sense yet again that Obama has long since lost the chance to unite the nation.
His speech sounded more like campaign boilerplate than a presidential address.
It seems he constantly sees his job as defeating his political foes (often the “straw men” in his speeches of whom you have heard tell)-which is not a very presidential attitude to have, since those supposed foes are your constituents.
From the outset of his Administration, Obama has not surrounded himself with political partisans, accustomed to an “us v. them” universe as opposed to think tank types, accustomed to design policies designed to serve society at large–and to building a broad consensus for said policies. As Michael Barone obseved, “Most of Obama’s top White House staffers are politics operatives, not policy wonks. ”
Just three days after he took office as President of the United States, in a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders, Obama responded to Republican concerns about the cost of his “so-called stimulus” and his so-called “tax credit” for people who don’t pay income taxes, by saying, “I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.“*
Yeah, but all those people in that room all won their resspective elections. And Obama won, in large part, by promising a “net spending cut” and reassuring voters in the middle that the change he was proposing was not all that drastic.
In any case, it was that very confrontational– and very unpresidential–attitude which has come to define the succeeding six months of his Administration–and has prevented him from becoming the unifying figure his supporters assured us he would be.
*With the statement, “I won,” (designed to trump his elected congessional adversaries) comes the assumption that he is entitled to pass whatever legislation he proposes or supports. It ignores the constitutional framework Madison designed in order to circumscribe the executive and contain the power of factions. The President would do well to familiarize himself with the Federalist.