Saturday, November 13, 2010

Worth Reading: Greider on Obama

William Greider writes a tough and cogent critique of Obama in The Nation, which urges the President to play "hardball," to "push back aggressively and stand his ground, more like those ruthless opponents trying to bury him."  Greider contends that Obama must "switch from cheerleading to honest talk. Tell people what the nation really needs, what Republicans intend to sabotage."  According to Greider, "what's missing with this president is power—a strong grasp of the powers he possesses and the willingness to govern the country with them." While Obama's extraordinary rise to the presidency was due to "learning rare skills, the ability to bridge different worlds comfortably and draw people together across racial, political and intellectual divides . . . to charm and disarm, not to smash and conquer" these skills, together with the Washington insiders and old friends with which he surrounded himself, have ill served him as president.  This has been particularly problematic when the Republican opposition "are masters of deceptive marketing," having cast him "as a power-mad (black) leftist, destroying democracy with socialist schemes," a portrait "so ludicrous and mendacious, the president's party hardly bothered to respond."  Greider argues that Obama needs to fight back and his allies need to encourage him to do so:  "Popular forces . . . can mobilize to demonstrate visible support for the president's loftier goals and to warn him off the temptation to pursue a Clintonesque appeasement of the right. Given the fragile status of his presidency, Obama needs to know that caving in is sure to encourage enemies and drive off disheartened supporters. People should, likewise, call out the president's enemies and attack them with the harshness that's out of character for him. The racial McCarthyism of the GOP establishment is a good place to start."


Stephen said...

Worth reading, yes, but I think I've been reading versions of this same critique all the way back to the showdown days in the primary battles with Hillary. For whatever the reason(s), Obama appears to be fiercely resistant to pleadings that he -- please forgive me -- man up and push back.

For instance, in more than just this particular June 2009 HuffPo piece ("Waiting For Audacity", Drew Westen has repeatedly and with increasing impatience been shouting from the sidelines for Obama to eat his spinach and flex some muscle.

But no. Not yet, anyway. Despite Obama's attempts to reassure the worried left that "I may be skinny but I'm tough," two years into his presidency thin is in.

Lovechilde said...

Quite true.

Stephen said...

Krugman piles on:

"[Obama] could do uplift — but could he fight?
So far the answer has been no."

"... Here’s the thing: Mr. Obama still has immense power, if he chooses to use it. At home, he has the veto pen, control of the Senate and the bully pulpit. He still has substantial executive authority to act on things like mortgage relief — there are billions of dollars not yet spent, not to mention the enormous leverage the government has via its ownership of Fannie and Freddie. Abroad, he still leads the world’s greatest economic power — and one area where he surely would get bipartisan support would be taking a tougher stand on China and other international bad actors.

But none of this will matter unless the president can find it within himself to use his power, to actually take a stand. And the signs aren’t good."

Stephen said...

Marty Kaplan (HuffPo): "Is it Audacity Time Yet?"

I wonder whether any of this is finally sinking in at 1600? Maybe it's time to put a call into Tony Robbins.

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