Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ubiquitous Obama

If we were paying the President by the hour, the economic crisis would be worse. After the Tonight Show, 60 Minutes and town halls everywhere, we get a prime-time news conference this evening.

If that sounds like a complaint, it isn't. In this time of multiple anxieties, Barack Obama, despite the inevitability of falling approval ratings, has succeeded brilliantly as Comforter-in-Chief.

With his remarkable capacity to put mixed feelings into context (i.e., the AIG bonuses are an outrage, but we can't afford to govern out of anger and then helping bury the nutty House tax bill), Obama is just the President we need psychologically at this moment, no matter what reservations we may have about specific moves such as the stimulus and the bank bailout.

"Obama Dials Down Wall Street Criticism" proclaims the Wall Street Journal today, as he reaches out for a public-private answer to the credit crunch, the latest step in his progress from defining the problem to trying to solve it.

Frustrated Republicans are reduced to sneers and nitpicking. As Carl Ericson observes at Simply Left Behind: "It's driving his opponents crazy. Obama has at once lifted himself above the fray while encouraging the fray using surrogates. The more conservatives focus on Obama's miscues and teleprompters, the more the American people will understand that the GOP offers no rational alternative at this time, that they are spinning their wheels waiting for an opportunity to seize the upper hand on an issue of substance."

In advance of the G20 economic summit next week, the President is going global with his ubiquity. In an OpEd today running in 31 countries around the world, he writes:

"We are living through a time of global economic challenges that cannot be met by half measures or the isolated efforts of any nation. Now, the leaders of the Group of 20 have a responsibility to take bold, comprehensive and coordinated action that not only jump-starts recovery, but also launches a new era of economic engagement to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again."

No matter what final grades he gets from history, Obama has already earned his A for effort.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

"Obama has at once lifted himself above the fray while encouraging the fray using surrogates."

Only junior high school girls are better at this particular tactic ;)