Pulpit sans bully
I must agree with Alterman's lament that President Obama has failed to use his position to transform the terms of the debate. True, Congress is controlled by the Republicans; the Senate can be stopped in its tracks by a filibuster. But public opinion can be influenced by forceful, authoritative, confident communication. George W. Bush relentlessly hawked his war againt Iraq until public opinion in its favor soared, and the Democrat-controlled Congress obeyed what it perceived to be the will of the people.
President Obama failed to fight forcefully for an adequate initial stimulus, financial reform with teeth, foreclosure relief, expiration of the high-end Bush tax cuts. He even allowed Congress to run with the healthcare reform ball. He may compromise enough on budget slashing that the tepid economic recovery will be stiffled. His occasional speeches are eloquent, but timid, with the apparent goal of making his point, and appearing conciliatory, not influencing the public.
If another severe finaical crisis cripples our economy in the not too distant future, historians will not miss the irony that the populist Tea Party was rallied against regulating the financial industry that brought the nation to a financial precipice. A bully in the pulpit could have persuaded the people, and their representatives, to undertake a different economic and social course.
Jun 16 2011 - 5:09pm