Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Partisan in the Oval Office

"The time for talk is through." That was the stellar tidbit given to liberal bloggers from President Obama as he gave them marching orders today. Go forward, he told them, and blog about health care reform. He told them to talk of the urgency and that the debate was over. It is time to act. Right now. And then I have a vision of him stamping his foot and spinning around as he left the room.

The problem with a President having a very big agenda with virtually no executive experience to guide him is that nothing really gets accomplished as he envisioned. This president is trying to remain above the fray. He is allowing the far left - Nancy Pelosi and her flying monkeys - to define the agenda of reform. He only steps in as it collapses.

Think back to the stimulus/spending bill. The President went before the American people time and time again after Pelosi botched it up. We were told there would be absolutely no frivolous spending, no pork. We were told if this wasn't rammed through rightthisminute, then unemployment would hit 8%. We were told we'd be going to hell in a hand basket.

And, it was all George W. Bush's fault. Never mind that the Democrats have controlled Congress since 2007.

Well, unemployment is at 9.5% right now and expected to reach upwards of 11% before it gets better. There was pork galore in the spending bill that was to be a stimulus to our sinking economy and only less than 10% has been spent. All those 'shovel ready' projects we were told were just waiting for the go-ahead weren't really so shovel ready after all.

No one had the time to read the bill before the vote. And, we're still going to hell in a hand basket.

Candidate Obama promised a new dawn of post-partisan politics. Those of us with more than a room temperature IQ knew the politician from the Chicago machine was full of it but we were told we were wrong. This guy is different. Seems that only six months into his four year term, fully supported by the media in this country, President Obama sees the wheels coming off his aggressive approach to reform.

He has failed, to date, to pass cap and trade - except in the House under Pelosi, of course - because fiscally conservative Democrats are not stupid. He has accepted that card check is out of the question in this environment, despite his heavy mortgage to the Unions for their political support; and now it is health care reform that is slipping away.

President Obama knows that his popularity will never be higher than in his first few months in office. He begins to wear thin. Even partisan members of the unbiased media - sarcasm there - are noticing the constant campaign mode of governing. He is doing all that he criticized the previous presidents on - Executive signing statements, war spending, tardy budget reports, the transparency pledges have never materialized into action, and he aligns with the liberal blogging community in daily talking point briefings.

If his big programs are having troubles now, imagine the difficulty in later months. The polls show a distinct drop in his popularity as a leader on economic and social programs. The biggest opposition the president has today is not from Republicans but from the conservative Democrats ushered into office in 2006 and 2008. The Blue Dog Democrats. He has Rahm Emanuel to thank for that. Rahmbo led the recruitment of them and knew the Democratic party would grow with conservative, not liberal, candidates.

So, here we are. The President is tinkering with a social experiment that will disrupt 1/6 of our economy. Republicans are being used, again, as the evil straw men in his speeches. Republicans, however, are not the enemy. We have alternative plans. The problem is that this President and his majority controlled Congress do not see the benefit of a true bi-partisan effort. The American voter will, however, come election time. His own HHS Secretary and budget guru cannot answer questions on what is being presented in the legislation. They both simply stress that it must be done rightthisminute.

Quick. Before more Americans realize those in charge are clueless.

In today's Wall Street Journal, William McGurn writes: "Yet far from stating the obvious - that sitting in the Oval Office is a very partisan president - the press corps is allowing Mr. Obama to evade the issue by coming up with novel redefinitions. The redefinition started during the stimulus debate, but it really picked up steam late last month with David Axelrod's appearance on ABC's "This Week." There the president's chief strategist explained that a bill didn't need Republican votes to be "bipartisan"; it was enough if Republican "ideas" were included. A few days earlier, Rahm Emanuel had offered reporters another redefinition, suggesting that a bill was bipartisan if people merely "saw the president trying" to get Republicans on board."

"The president himself endorsed this redefinition during Rose Garden remarks delivered after a Senate committee passed a health-care bill on a strictly party-line vote."

It is much like the "jobs saved or created" numbers. Pulled out of thin air, it would seem. And no more real.

Conservative pundit Peggy Noonan said, "An administration about everything is an administration about nothing" of this pursuit from the administration. Colin Powell, a last minute official Obama supporter last fall after donating and supporting John McCain, said, "I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president - and I've talked to some of his people about this - is that you can't have so many things on the table that you can't absorb it all." What? No direct meeting with President Obama? I thought he was so honored to have Powell on his side. And, Powell swore it wasn't a vote cast on race. Karma.

Matt Bai, in The New York Times, called "Obama the nation's first shuffle president". "He's telling lots of stories at once, and in no particular order. His agenda is fully downloadable. If what you care about is health care, then you can jump right to that. If global warming gets you going, then click over there. It's not especially realistic to imagine that politics could cling to a linear way of rendering stories while the rest of American culture adapts to a more customized form of consumption." While pointing to the fact that younger voters may appreciate the approach, older voters would note the peril. "Random play may popularize your music in the aggregate, but it doesn't foster the same kind of investment in the songs themselves."

"Too much comes at us now, too devoid of context, for an one thing to matter as much as it probably should. In a society on shuffle, we're always left to wonder what's next."

Slowing down a bit and accepting a bi-partisan approach, a true bi-partisan effort as we were promised, is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

Demand your legislators read any bill before a vote. Especially the huge ones. It is their job.

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