President Spock’s behavior is illogical.I'm greatly relieved that an Obama is running the US and not the disasterous Bush. But I'm pained and unhappy that Obama, who promised to deliver so much, has low-balled the estimates and delivered only modestly. He has so much potential, but he isn't delivering the leadership needed. It is a tragedy.
Once more, he has willfully and inexplicably resisted fulfilling a signal part of his job: being a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting what Americans feel so they know he gets it.
“This president needs to tell BP, ’I’m your daddy,’ “ scolded James Carville, a New Orleans resident, as he called Barack Obama’s response to Louisiana’s new watery heartbreak “lackadaisical.”
In the campaign, Obama’s fight flagged to the point that his donors openly upbraided him. In the Oval, he waited too long to express outrage and offer leadership on A.I.G., the banks, the bonuses, the job loss and mortgage fears, the Christmas underwear bomber, the death panel scare tactics, the ugly name-calling of Tea Party protesters.
Too often it feels as though Barry is watching from a balcony, reluctant to enter the fray until the clamor of the crowd forces him to come down. The pattern is perverse. The man whose presidency is rooted in his ability to inspire withholds that inspiration when it is most needed.
F.D.R. achieved greatness not by means of imposing his temperament and intellect on the world but by reacting to what the world threw at him.
For five weeks, it looked as though Obama considered the gushing that became the worst oil spill in U.S. history a distraction, like a fire alarm going off in the middle of a law seminar he was teaching. He’ll deal with it, but he’s annoyed because it’s not on his syllabus.
To be fair, not all the problems of leadership are Obama's fault. He is working in a poisonous environment where the Republicans would rather sabotage the ship of state than allow the Democrats to govern efficiently. Here is a discussion of the problem from James Fallows on his blog:
As you may have heard elsewhere, the Obama Administration has been relatively slow in vetting and choosing nominees for many of its important posts -- but then has encountered extreme slowness from the Senate in approving the appointments once they get made. If you go to this White House site, you'll find a searchable, sortable list of all 820+ nominations and appointments made so far in the Administration; about 240 have not even come up for a Senate vote. If you go to this U.S. Senate site and click on the link for "Executive Calendar," you'll get a long PDF showing in its "nominations" section the scores and scores of people who have come through committees but not received a vote on the Senate floor. (Direct link to the PDF here.)
On Thursday afternoon, just before its Memorial Day recess, the Senate had planned to consider about 80 of these nominations as a group. They all had been through financial and security vetting; they had been through committee consideration; they were headed for jobs that in many cases now stood vacant; they were ready to go. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, moved for approval by unanimous consent, apparently believing that a deal to clear out the huge backlog had been struck. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, begged to differ. He was still sore about the recess appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Therefore he wouldn't agree to the en-bloc vote. As he put it:Unfortunately, we are snagged over one particular nomination which has already been defeated by the Senate, and that was the nomination of Craig Becker to be on the NLRB. The President then recessed Mr. Becker and recessed a Democratic nomination to the NLRB but not a Republican nominee to the NLRB. There is a fundamental lack of equity and fairness involved, and that has been a significant hindrance in coming to a consent agreement.Fundamental lack of equity and fairness, indeed. Among other points, the nomination was not "defeated" by the Senate; the Democrats couldn't get the 60 votes to break a filibuster, which is different. After the jump, the extended exchange between McConnell and Harkin, which ends with a remarkable peroration by Harkin on what "fairness" has come to mean.