E. J. Dionne joins Krugman in pleading with Obama for more boldness and audacity in his economic program. Otherwise, he is going to be toast. It is not going to take long for many people to turn against him and then his entire program will go up in smoke.
All of the administration's critics are being emboldened by its hesitancy in dealing with the banking question and its apparent fear of temporary bank nationalization. On this issue, the president genuinely is trying to steer a moderate course -- and moderation may be exactly the wrong recipe.
There is something deeply disturbing about the drip, drip, drip of billions of dollars into the banking system with no apparent impact. There is no transparency about how financial institutions are using the money. And there has been little clarity as to how the administration's actions will eventually lead to a recovery. Obama and his speechwriters need to seek inspiration, again, from FDR's fireside chats -- and explain what's happening to a petrified nation and world. His aides promise more of this, and they need to get moving.
Obama's calm and deliberative style is one of his greatest strengths. He doesn't want precipitous action in the midst of an economic collapse to come back to haunt us all. But sometimes excessive caution can be as dangerous as impetuousness. The president has no choice but to be bold.
If Obama doesn't get more audacious, he's going to have his own friends and supporters pining for more of that Hillary Clinton backbone. He might need to make her Secretary of the Treasury. Or she might run against in 2012, which would probably open the door for the Republicans again. (Now that is a scary thought.)
Please, Mr. President, you've got to start kickin' some butt!