POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Obama’s moment to lead is right now, as the Senate and subsequent joint committee re-shape the stimulus package

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 4, 2009

Maureen Dowd writes in the NYT (2-4-09) …

  • It just ain’t that easy.
  • “I think I messed up. I screwed up,” President Obama confessed to Katie Couric.
    • Mr. Obama admitted that “ultimately it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules. You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”
    • It took Daschle’s resignation to shake the president out of his arrogant attitude that his charmed circle doesn’t have to abide by the lofty standards he lectured the rest of us about for two years. 
  • Mr. Obama’s errors on the helter-skelter stimulus package were also self-induced.
    • Mr. Obama should have taken a red pencil to the $819 billion stimulus bill and slashed all the provisions that looked like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending.
    • Mr. Obama protested to Brian Williams that the programs denounced as “wasteful” by Republicans “amount to less than 1 percent of the entire package.” All the more reason to cut them and create a lean, clean bill tailored to creating jobs.
  • Betrayed by their bankers and leaders, Americans were desperate to trust someone when they made Barack Obama president. His debut has left them skeptical about his willingness to smack down those who would flout his high standards or waste our money.


Barack Obama has learned in his first two weeks as president (he no doubt knew) that running the government is far more difficult than running a campaign. He’s very smart, and his objectives are admirable, so we can expect that he will learn from his rookie mistakes. But he won’t have the luxury of time.

The fact that Obama has admitted his mistakes is encouraging, but not sufficient. Action is needed, and the time is right now, in the U.S. Senate and the subsequent House-Senate joint committee that will revise the stimulus package. We need to see effective leadership from Obama and his team (Emanuel, Gaithner et al), the elimination of nonsense programs and blatant pork from the suddenly gluttonous Democrats, the insistence on keeping valuable programs despite partisan ideological Republican blithering, a resulting package that has a chance to change our downward spiral, and all this needs to happen right now.

This next week or so will define the Obama presidency.

The Senate and the joint committee are the perfect venue in which to observe whether Obama has the skills and courage to  harness an imperfect government to produce an acceptable (perfect is unattainable, acceptable will be enough) result. Will it be, as many of us so fervently desire, a demonstration of “Yes, we can,” or will it tarnish so quickly the hope Barack Obama has kindled?

Read Dowd’s entire column at … http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/opinion/04dowd.html?ref=opinion



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