October 31, 2010

EXCEPT THAT HE'S NEVER TRIED IT BEFORE:

A choice for Obama: Try leadership (Fred Hiatt, October 31, 2010, Washington Post)

A leader would look to cooperate with business, not demonize it. He would tell upper-income Americans that they have to pay more taxes not because they're bad people who caused the recession but because everyone will have to do his part if America is to get well. Cotton farmers, mortgage bankers, ethanol peddlers - no sacred cow would stay sacred. He would reach out to Republicans privately, not in public forums intended to show them up, to see if he could find anyone willing to do business.

I'm not recommending that Obama be naive about his opposition, nor that he sit the American people down, Jimmy Carter-style, for a dose of bad news. But a lot of Americans would welcome a president who sought to rise above the ugliness: business executives who are disappointed but still want Obama to succeed, independent voters who still hope for the change in political climate that he promised in 2008, ordinary people buffeted by forces beyond their control who want straight talk on where the country is headed. They can tell the difference between pretend and real leadership, and between show bipartisanship and attempts at the real thing.

Many would prefer the real thing. It might even help in 2012.


Mr. Obama's entire life and career is based on following so perfectly as to win universal acceptance within whichever institution he finds himself. Leadership is by its very nature divisive, because it requires making decisions rather than just acquiescing to those of the majority. There is no basis for believing him capable of what Mr. Hiatt is asking.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2010 6:10 AM
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