Sunday, March 6, 2011

Where, Oh where, is the U.S. President?...

On Wednesday The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus wrote a column titled “Obama’s ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Presidency.” [Here]  She wasn’t as ferocious as she could have been but at least her displeasure at his tepid leadership has been noted.  Why hasn’t she been joined by scores of other columnists from the left?  
For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action - unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.
Marcus mentions Obama’s lack of firm leadership in the recent health care debate.  She also notes Obama’s recent unclarity about where he stands on budget cutting.  America dodged a government shutdown last week but it most certainly will be tried again.  She contrasted Obama’s silence on the shutdown with how Clinton dealt with the same issue.  Clinton sent aides and cabinet members to the hill with the message that cuts to education, housing and health care would hurt families and particularly children.  The same cuts that are being made today will hurt the same vulnerable population, but...where’s Obama?
Marcus wrote that her biggest gripe is with Obama’s “slipperiness” with fiscal policies.  Where does he stand?  What about the Debt Commission proposals?  What about Social Security?  Medicare?  Medicaid?  It’s clear the President doesn’t want to discuss these now, but he hasn’t drawn a line in the sand, at least not one that I can see.
In the meantime, the House Republicans pass federal budget cuts in their Continuing Resolutions (CRs) which keeps the government going for a few weeks at a time and, meanwhile, bit by bit, they are getting what they want.  As an article in Slate by David Weigel pointed out, [Here] with these CR’s. the GOP is slowly winning the budget war.  
Author Weigel quoted a Colorado Congressman as saying, “I think the ability to finish out a CR from here to September is important.  But if the Senate’s not willing to cut spending, and if it’s only willing to cut spending two weeks at a time, then so be it.”
So be it, indeed.  I guess that’s the new GOP subtitle and motto.  What a rotten way to run a government--or even a Mom & Pop Grocery Store.  
It’s time for Obama to stop strategizing for 2012 and start leading in 2011.  It’s also time for Obama to stop taking his base for granted.  It needs his concern and loyalty.  The Hill has a blog post that has a very disturbing title, “Republicans in solid shape to take control of Senate next year.”  [Here]  Whether this is true and will happen, we do not know, but it is a frightening thought.   
Today’s true heroes are those Americans protesting in Wisconsin and the 14 Wisconsin Democratic Senators who have left the state, their homes and their families to stop the corporationist GOP war on unions.  
These men and women deserve our praise and admiration.
They most certainly are owed Obama’s enthusiastic support.

So, where is he?...

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