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Re: Same Old, Same Old

Others have observed that President Obama seems stuck in campaign mode. Joan Vennochi writes:

As he approaches the three-week mark of his presidency, it’s not surprising that Obama remains somewhat in campaign mode. But it’s campaign mode without an obvious game plan and some of the eloquence that defined him as a candidate.

A president’s acceptance of personal responsibility is a welcome change from the past eight years. But the meltdown around Tom Daschle’s nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services reduced Obama from the elegant to the colloquial: “I screwed up.”

But it worked before, might it not work again? Well, it depends what “work” means. He already has his congressional majority, so it’s not likely a question of getting a bill passed. It will “work” to persuade Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who needed no encouragement anyway, to spend a trillion dollars.  But if  “work” means that the approach will help the economy, then it gets dicier.  As Vennochi points out, “even the supposedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is challenging Obama’s premise. It put out word that his plan would help in the short run but would hurt over time, by vastly increasing government debt.”

And if  “work” means creating a super-majority which spans party lines and pushes the GOP out to the extreme right of the political spectrum, that seems unlikely so long as the president keeps pushing the pork-a-thon approach to the recession. The public, in poll after poll, has said they don’t like the current stimulus and want more tax cuts and less spending.

None of this seems remotely like what the Obama team promised during two years of campaigning and up through the transition.  Michael Goodwin chides Obama for resorting to “fear-mongering, a tactic he often accused former President George Bush of using.” He explains:

Nor will it be easy to persuade anyone he is nonideological after his turn to hard partisanship on just his 16th day in office. In a political hot-house atmosphere, he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “our rock” and “an extraordinary leader,” oblivious to her 18% approval rating. He claimed the stimulus she produced reflected “discipline,” meaning he’s either cynical or didn’t bother to read the turkey before embracing it.

He accused critics of pushing “tired arguments and worn ideas,” but there is nothing more tired than Washington’s wasteful spending. He wants to “name and shame” corporate fat cats who abuse taxpayer bailouts, but cheers his Dem mates for an outrageous tab that knows no precedent in our nation’s history.

Who is this guy? Where is the Barack Obama who charmed the country and challenged it to greatness?

Campaign tactics have their limitations, especially once you have beaten the hapless opponent. For now, the ones talking economic principles, arguing for a reasoned debate on the merits and resisting the invitation for a political food fight are the Republicans. It seems it is they, and they alone, who have put away “childish things.” It wasn’t supposed to be this way, we were told.


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