American Elephants


Ungovernable? To Govern, One Must Do More Than Just Say “I Won.” by The Elephant's Child
February 9, 2010, 1:56 am
Filed under: Economy, Law, National Security, Taxes | Tags: , , ,

Michelle Obama remarked recently that the Obamas were gaining a newfound respect for their predecessors, as they learned how hard the job of the presidency was.  This is the job he ran for.  Didn’t he have some idea?

Some political analysts have looked at Obama’s failed agenda and suggested that America has become “ungovernable. ” Ezra Klein argued in the Washington Post that  the filibuster was preventing government from functioning.  Tom Friedman  claimed America’s “political instability” was making people abroad nervous.  Newsweek’s Michael Cohen blamed “obstructionist Republicans,” “spineless Democrats,” and an “incoherent public” for the problems.

Gosh.  I thought the public was pretty coherent, and making themselves very clear.  We don’t like the burgeoning deficit and the massive debt. We don’t like the runaway spending.  And we really don’t like the Health-Care Reform plan that solves no problems at all. We don’t like the idea of trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court , and we don’t like giving  Umar Adbulmuttalab  domestic civil rights and Mirandizing him before we can even find out who those 25 others waiting to attack us are.

That’s what the polls show.  That’s what people are writing on their homemade signs at Tea Parties, that’s what they are asking their representatives about, that’s what bloggers are writing about, and those were the issues that Scott Brown won with in Massachusetts.  How very odd that neither political analysts nor Democrats in Congress can hear us or grasp what we are talking about.

Jay Cost, a political analyst who writes at Real Clear Politics, said: (and I’d urge you to read the whole thing)

This country is most certainly divided, but not deeply so.  Consider, for instance, the enormous good will that greeted Mr. Obama upon his inauguration.  It is not tenable to suggest that there was no way to turn that into a broad consensus for policy solutions.

The responsibility for the government’s failure in the last year rests with President Obama.  Two significant blunders stand out.

First, President Obama has installed Nancy Pelosi as de facto Prime Minister — giving her leave to dominate not only the house, but also the entire domestic policy agenda. …

[T]he problem is the House.  It has consistently passed legislation that is too far to the left for the Senate and the country….

The President’s second major failing has been his stubborn insistence on comprehensive reforms.  Perhaps this is due to his inexperience in the federal lawmaking process, or his extraordinary vanity, or both.  Still this has been a grave mistake….

He has been narrow, not broad.  He has been partial, not post-partisan.  He has been ideological, not pragmatic.  No number of “eloquent” speeches can alter these facts.  This is why his major initiatives have failed, by his net job approval has dropped 50 points in 12 months, and why he is substantially weaker now than he was a year ago.

The country, Cost says, is not in the midst of a “liberal moment.” While the President won decisively in 2008, ” his congressional majority in both chambers depends entirely upon members whose constituents voted for John McCain.”

“America is not ungovernable.  Barack Obama has so far failed to govern it.”




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