President Obama's address to the nation on Iraq this week underscores the agony of his presidency and its core political problem.Howie P.S.: "yes, yes a thousand times yes!" Read the whole damn thing!
Yet the challenging nature of the moment does not explain all of the president's struggles. It's true that his accomplishments will have important long-term effects, even if they have not resolved the country's central concern: the continuing sluggishness of the economy.
But Obama and his party are also in a hole because the president has chosen not to engage the nation in an extended dialogue about what holds all of his achievements together, or why his attitude toward government makes more sense than the scattershot conservative attacks on everything Washington might do to improve the nation's lot.
Obama's mistake is captured by that disdainful reference to "politicking." In a democracy, separating governing from "politicking" is impossible. "Politicking" is nothing less than the ongoing effort to convince free citizens of the merits of a set of ideas, policies and decisions. Voters feel better about politicians who put what they are doing in a compelling context. Citizens can endure setbacks as long as they believe the overall direction of the government's approach is right.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
"Obama needs to relearn the art of politicking"