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He’s Still Campaigning

President Obama just finished the press conference about his economic team. There’s something worrying — he’s in a crisis and leaning heavily on campaign rhetoric: “We were elected because people want change,” etc. Any opposition to the stimulus is framed as an impediment to this broad (and broadly defined) electoral mandate; any dissent is called “partisan posturing”; any hold-ups are just evidence of that dreaded “business as usual.” Any alternative propositions are the failed policies of the past. Unless he gets what he wants without delay, we will all suffer irreversibly for not understanding “change.”

The nature of Obama’s campaign has allowed him to take office with a self-righteous, ready-made language in which to cloak plain old bad decisions and poor leadership. This won’t work. A skillful appearance during the campaign could get him out of a tough spot, because the campaign was his. The government and the financial system are ours and we need them to succeed. In the two-plus weeks since President Obama has taken the oath, the American public has lost interest in his fate and gotten serious about the fate of the country. As long as our president continues to wrap national crises in the scolding language of his campaign, we have to wonder if he has yet made the same adjustment.


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