As you may have inferred from my previous post, I was sick of thinking about politics and the economy Tuesday. Apparently President Obama was sick of it, too, as judged from clips I have seen of his press conference that day, and responses to it.
I bet he’s glad to get away to Mexico for a few days, and talks with their new president might somehow help with getting an immigration bill passed (don’t ask me how), as long as Obama doesn’t get any credit for it. That is the odd spot he occupies and probably prompted his unseemly whining at that press conference. He is is often criticized for a lack of leadership, but how does he lead people who absolutely refuse to follow, or even compromise on anything that will make him look good.
In case you can’t guess, I’m talking about a number of Republicans here, especially found in the House who were elected to say “no” to anything that did not include reducing taxes and the size of government. And, in general, anything that makes Obama look good.
Talk about what previous presidents did to successfully work across the aisle is irrelevant as there has not been anything like the gridlock spawned by the combination of entrenched ideologies and worsening economics in my lifetime.
But it doesn’t do for the President of the United States to whine, and I imagine he would agree. Hey, he had a had a down day, like he did the day of that first debate with Mitt Romney, like we all have, except our bad days don’t make international news.
I am sympathetic, but with a caveat. I have a theory that Obama’s lack of energy stemmed from his knowing at some level he had undermined himself, sold himself out. He felt so hog tied that day because at some level he knew he had contributed to his political impotency by not vetoing a bill that allowed the FAA to switch funds around to remove furlows on air traffic controllers. This after saying “he would not go along with attempts by Congress to selectively ameliorate the effects of sequestration,” in the words of Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.
Vetoing that bill would have been unpopular among both parties in congress, as clogged airports would have remained, something that would have affected most of them about to head home on a break. Not to mention angry voters awaiting their return home.
But by failing to exercise his veto, he gave up his power to push congress to make overall changes in the cuts and opened the door to more individual changes in the sequester, which undoubtedly will favor those with the most clout, not those with the most need. As Robinson pointed out: “The president could have told Congress that he will agree to make travel more convenient for their jet-set constituents, all right — if and when they send him a companion bill restoring needed benefits for low-income citizens.”
That is what he should have done, been less reasonable and taken a stand. At some level I believe he knew that, which drained him more than all the obstacles the Republicans have mustered. His excuse for not vetoing the bill was he didn’t want to “impose a whole bunch of delays on passengers” because of congressional dysfunction, but this is where his inclination to being reasonable morphs into being whimpy.
Or as Robinson put it in his title: “Obama Goes Wobbly.”