Friday, February 18, 2011

Bait and Switch

Obama was sold to the Democrats as a bold, transformational kind of leader.  "We're gonna change the way things are done in Washington!"  But that's not what he is.  He's a 'slow and easy' kind of guy, who doesn't want to upset anyone (except maybe those who believed the hype about his being transformational!) Here's David Brooks again:
The president has enormous faith in getting smart people around the table and initiating technocratic reform. But you can’t renegotiate the social contract in private. You have to have public buy-in. You have to spend years out in public educating voters about the size of the problem and what will be required. You have to show voters what a solution looks like.

The New Deal wasn’t passed by a president who led quietly from the back. Neither was the Great Society or the Reagan Revolution. President Obama’s softly, softly approach is a rationalization, not a coherent strategy. It’s the latest version of Obama’s eternal promise: I’ll do it tomorrow.
I remember one of the first things Obama did after winning the election was to meet with a bunch of conservative thinkers like George Will, David Brooks, David Frum, Kathleen Parker (writers who had, if not endorsed him, at least had broken with McCain for picking Sarah Palin) for dinner and conversation. At the time, I thought that was a little weird, but in retrospect, it seems clear what he was doing: reassuring them that he wasn't what the Democrats thought he was, but a 'thinking conservative's' kind of President). 

For those in society who have benefited from the way things have been for the last 30 years (the bankers, the CEOs, the rich) he's perfect.  For the rest of us who wanted someone to change the way things were done, not so much.
So the mantle of leadership has passed to Capitol Hill. While Obama asked for patience yet again, Eric Cantor announced that Republicans will put entitlements on the table. It may be politically risky, but it looks more like leadership to me.
So, David Brooks is disappointed, now that he's decided we need transformational leadership.  George Will and others conservatives have switched over to Mitch Daniels as the calm, cool, but decisive leader they want.  Sounds like Brooks is getting ready to do the same.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement.  I'm getting bitter over the 'bait and switch' that happened in 2008.

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