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Maybe He Should Get Down to Work

A growing number of Democrats are openly fretting about Obama. You can’t blame them, considering that he led the party on a yearlong, fruitless quest for health care, and they are now staring at a potential wave election. Moreover, it’s hard to see what he thinks the presidency is all about. He gives speeches and goes on TV, but what else?

He’s not connecting with voters, even his own party concedes. One of the at-risk Democratic Virginia congressmen, Gerry Connolly, complains the president should “go out and talk to the unemployed. Go out and talk to small businesses.” He says that Obama is  “‘too much the cerebral, cool, detached’ president and that he needs to weigh in forcefully to break the logjam over health-care reform and other issues. ‘He needs to recalibrate what the proper balance is moving forward.’”

But he really doesn’t do the whole legislative drafting thing:

White House spokesman Bill Burton said Obama will not delve into the minutiae of writing a health-care bill. “He’s not a legislative technician,” Burton said. “He’s not going to get into the nitty-gritty of what the best way forward is at this point.”

So what does he do? He campaigns and speechifies, of course. He gives the State of the Union and talks about fiscal responsibility, but his minions draft a monstrous tax-and-spend blueprint that not even Democrats can defend. He tells lawmakers to “punch through” on health care but simply recycles the same talking points. He has outsourced anti-terrorism policy to Eric Holder. What’s missing in all this is a conscientious attention to governance, a well-thought set of policies that could engender bipartisan support, and a willingness to talk directly to voters without laying blame for all his travails on others. Yes, the presidency is hard, as he said of the Middle East. But it doesn’t get easier by ignoring many of the job’s key tasks.


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