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Is Obama Ineffetive?


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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MAY 7, 2013
IS OBAMA INEFFECTIVE?
BY BOB FRANKEN
What an interesting debate. It’s about which of our leaders is to blame for the failure of our political system. Sadly, that failure is considered a given by a huge majority of our citizens. And for good reason: gridlock. It’s a paralysis caused either by petty and dangerously stupid obstructionists controlling the opposition or by a president who’s too ineffective to overcome them.
The latter narrative is slowly gaining circulation. A growing number of columnists who are often considered Barack Obama’s progressive soul mates are teeing off on his inability to strong-arm Congress. Maureen Dowd, of The New York Times, has gotten a lot of attention with her conclusion that the president “still has not learned how to govern.” That’s because “he chooses not to get down in the weeds.”
Make no mistake about it: Politics is all weeds. It is an unruly turf where a con game is played by people whose overriding motivation is ambition. At its best, it is the dark side of democracy. What we’re stuck with these days could hardly be described as being at its best.
We are witnessing a circus where the extremist clowns who control the Republican agenda are able to thwart even the most obvious fixes to our problems. Some new requirements for gun purchasers, for instance, which were already watered down, were defeated in the Senate, even though, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, 90 percent of Americans supported the restrictions. Even worse, the crazies seem to delight in making things worse. The sequester is a case in point, only one of too many to list.
More galling of all is how the most heat is generated by some of the dimmest light bulbs. The GOP’s Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann in the House and TedCruz in the Senate are among those whose appeal to their voters is based on the maxim “Ignorance is bliss.”
Having said that, here’s another: “It is what it is.” And that’s what his critics believe Obama fails to grasp. By now, his promise to change the way Washington works seems hopelessly naive. And his disdain for those who manipulate the process, which is to say nearly everyone in D.C., has left him so far above it all that results are out of reach.
Plainly and simply, he needs to climb down from his high horse and wallow in the mud with everyone else. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews calls it “Hardball,” but what it’s really like is rugby. We don’t want to know all the dirty stuff that happens in the scrums, but that’s where the matches are won. Actually, the saying about rugby is that you don’t win; the best you can hope for is surviving. The president’s agenda almost never survives the brutal collision with the gang on the other side that is singularly dedicated to his losing —nothing else.
At his recent news conference, he ridiculed those who think “my job is to somehow get them to behave,”meaning the Republicans in Congress. Actually, that is the job of the chief executive. “Woe is me” just doesn’t cut it. If you get into the slime, then you must play dirty like everyone else in there. The White House has all kinds of nastiness at its disposal that can make the lives of its enemies a living hell. They seem to be impervious to shame, but everyone has buttons to push. The secret is using that power without crossing the legal line, like Richard Nixon did. But that leaves plenty of room to switch from defense to offense, really offensive offense, if necessary.
Mr. Obama was not selected to be Mr. Congeniality. He was elected president of the United States. The cliché is that it’s the most powerful position in the world. These days, it just doesn’t look like it.


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Most galling of all is how the most heat is generated by some of the dimmest light bulbs. The GOP’s Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann in the House and TedCruz in the Senate are among those whose appeal to their voters is based on the maxim “Ignorance is bliss.”
HAving said that, here’s another: “It is what it is.” And that’s what his critics believe Obama fails to grasp. By now, his promise to change the way Washington works seems hopelessly naive. And his disdain for those who manipulate the process, which is to say nearly everyone in D.C., has left him so far above it all that results are out of reach.
Plainly and simply, he needs to climb down from his high horse and wallow in the mud with everyone else. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews calls it “Hardball,” but what it’s really like is rugby. We don’t want to know all the dirty stuff that happens in the scrums, but that’s where the matches are won. Actually, the saying about rugby is that you don’t win; the best you can hope for is surviving. The president’s agenda almost never survives the brutal collision with the gang on the other side that is singularly dedicated to his losing —nothing else.
At his recent news conference, he ridiculed those who think “my job is to somehow get them to behave,”meaning the Republicans in Congress. Actually, that is the job of the chief executive. “Woe is me” just doesn’t cut it. If you get into the slime, then you must play dirty like everyone else in there. The White House has all kinds of nastiness at its disposal that can make the lives of its enemies a living hell. They seem to be impervious to shame, but everyone has buttons to push. The secret is using that power without crossing the legal line, like Richard Nixon did. But that leaves plenty of room to switch from defense to offense, really offensive offense, if necessary.
Mr. Obama was not selected to be Mr. Congeniality. He was elected president of the United States. The cliché is that it’s the most powerful position in the world. These days, it just doesn’t look like it.

King Features Inc.
(C) Bob Franken

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 13, 2013 2:37 PM.

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