SOTU: What Does ObamaMan Want?
posted at 8:27 pm on January 27, 2010 by Dafydd ab Hugh
That’s what tonight’s State of the Union address (and voter reaction to it) will hinge upon: Does President Barack H. Obama want to be perceived as having succeeded on a handful of issues that resonate with voters? Or does he want to be perceived as having “stuck to his guns” on big-ticket, very left-liberal policies… that all failed?
In other words, is B.O. more interested in promoting the fortunes of B.O., or the fortunes of George Soros, MoveOn, and ACORN?
If the latter, there’s nothing to say: If he’s determined to go down with the lefty ship, let him. I believe we’re past the danger than he would take the rest of the country down with him (except perhaps in terms of debt; but that would take quite a while). But if Obama is seriously interested in his own personal political future, then that brings us to the more interesting question: What could the president realistically say tonight that would start to repair the damage?
Note the highlighted word in that question: The Obamacle is not going to flip to being a Republican; nor is he capable of “triangulating,” as Bill Clinton did, playing the Democrats off against the Republicans. He is bound not only by his past statements and behaviors — which are far more radical than Bill Clinton pre-1994 — but also by his own character and background: Basically, Obama is best described as “a community organizer for ACORN.” Such a man cannot, for example, suddenly sign aboard a policy of reducing welfare, as Clinton did… it’s simply not in Barack Obama’s nature.
But there are things he can do; let’s see if we can figure out a few. Yes, I know the speech is already cast in stone. But this is a fantasy; and anyway, change doesn’t have to begin with this one particular speech.
The most important rule about holes: When you find yourself in one, the first step is to…
In this case, considering that each of Obama’s signature programs has already flopped — card check, the energy
cripple and tax cap and trade bill, sundry stimuli, and of course ObamaCare — it costs him nothing to say that he wants Congress to put all those programs of revolutionary change on hold for a while. In fact, he should announce they’re on hold until the next Congress is seated; that will simultaneously recognize reality and also position Obama to become much more bipartisan by default, since everyone knows the next Congress will be more balanced.
He should also put on hold his habit of making incendiary, populist, Oogo-Chavez like rants against Big Oil, Big Stock, Big Bank, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance: The speeches aren’t playing well with the voters and they’re scaring the bejesus out of investors.
Finally, it’s long, long past time to stop blaming George W. Bush for all of Barack H. Obama’s travails and tribulations. B.O. should man-up and firmly announce that the buck stops at his seat. To wit, Obama should invite George W. Bush to meet with him at the White House to discuss, let’s say, strategy in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis.
Time to give voters a breather.
Make some new friends
Speaking of partisanship, practically the entire country thinks there’s been a whole lotta too much of it.
Obama should admit that he lost his focus on bipartisanship, but that he intends to be much more inclusive of Republicans and moderate Democrats this year. Specifically, that he intends to meet with them at the White House, discuss the issues, and press Congress to work out more bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems.
Since everyone knows that such vows are “pie-crust promises, easily made and easily broken,” he should make a specific pledge to veto any major bill that comes to his desk with support from only one party. “And not just one or two votes; I want to see a good-faith effort to be inclusive.”
Bush famously made a horse-trade after 9/11 and even more so after the Iraq War began: He gave the Democratic minority some of what it wanted on the domestic front (the Medicare prescription-drug extension, for example) in exchange for Democrats not inflicting military defeat on the American people in Iraq and Afghanistan, i.e., by filibustering supplementary Defense authorization bills.
Obama can make the same deal in reverse: He can offer a more robust response to terrorism and the two major wars in exchange for the GOP helping him pass some small-scale version of, say, health-care reform.
This isn’t exactly triangulating; there’s no 180° flip-flop required for Obama in this deal, since he has never said (post-inauguration) that we should pull out of Iraq immediately or that all terrorists should be treated as civilian criminals. It’s just shading the policy a little more towards national security than liberals would prefer.
Start listening to your own best friend — yourself
Obama often talks a good game (or at least a considerably less awful one) on issues such as deficit reduction, the war against the Axis, Executive transparency, an end to earmarks and other corruption, and private-sector job creation. So why not actually make good on a few of those promises?
These are areas where B.O. already talks the talk; he doesn’t need to flip a loud and public flop. But it is long past time he walk the walk.
These three tacks in aggregate could go a long way towards tearing down the wall of separation between Obama and America. Alas, we already know what he plans to say… because evidently, la Casa Blanca has already released its “talking points” for tonight’s speech. Power Line has ‘em here.
And while I don’t like to judge before all the facts are in, it appears as though the president has opted simply to redouble his efforts in all the same directions as the last year.
So it goes.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…
Recently in the Green Room: