Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Weirdest Washington Game

After ten months in office, Barack Obama must feel he has been in a long surreal tennis match with nobody on the other side of the net.

In the stands is a chorus of Republicans yelling "Out!" at everything he serves, while jeering that he is moving too fast on the economy and too slowly on Afghanistan.

On the other side, Democrats are weakly cheering him on but spending much of their energy fighting one another to position themselves for their own contests next year.

What does the scoreboard show? Economists are giving the President some points, tentatively concluding that "with roughly a quarter of the stimulus money out the door after nine months, the accumulation of hard data and real-life experience has allowed more dispassionate analysts to reach a consensus that the stimulus package, messy as it is, is working."

On the Wall Street bailout, resident New York Times pundits score him both ways. Paul Krugman concludes "government officials made no serious attempt to extract concessions from bankers, even though these bankers received huge benefits from the rescue. And more than money was lost. By making what was in effect a multibillion-dollar gift to Wall Street, policy makers undermined their own credibility--and put the broader economy at risk."

The same day, David Brooks disagrees, saying "the evidence of the past eight months suggests that [Treasury Secretary Tim] Geithner was mostly right and his critics were mostly wrong. The financial sector is in much better shape than it was then. TARP money is being repaid, and the debate now is what to do with the billions that were never needed."

With all this confused cheering and jeering, it should be no surprise that the public is losing heart with the Gallup Poll showing the President's approval ratings slipping below 50 percent for the first time.

But there is some optimism in the air. Peggy Noonan observes that "the mood of this Thanksgiving looks to be different. An unofficial poll of a dozen friends yields two themes: 'We're still here,' and 'I am so grateful.'"

Meanwhile, the President is back from Asia and still swatting away at the nation's problems, hoping someone will join him for a better game.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

Nobody on the other side of the net? Seriously? Have you read the MANY proposals made by republicans? Heard about the republicans who have been trying since August to meet with Mr. My Door is Always Open?,2933,576132,00.html

You're far better than that. You know that's not true or even close to the truth. BO said he wanted to work with republicans but ONLY if they jumped on board with his plan. That's not playing tennis with no one on the other side of the net, that's hitting balls at the driving range.

Holte Ender said...

I've played tennis up against wall, you think you played a good shot, but did you really? The game of politics is only effective if everyone plays. Let's see how good everybody is.