Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grownup Time Again in Washington?

Barack Obama’s press conference ends up being an effort to put aside childish games and restore government to an adult level on national issues.

“Call me naïve,” he tells reporters. “But my expectation is that leaders are going to lead.”

At one point, he contrasts Congress’ dealing with the debt limit to the way his daughters do their homework a day early, not waiting until the last minute and “pulling all-nighters” to get it done on time.

Members of Congress “need to do their job. They need to go ahead and make the tough choices...

“This is not a situation where Congress is going to say we won’t buy this car or we won’t take the vacation. They took the vacation. They bought the car. And now they are saying maybe we don’t have to pay. If the United States government, for the first time, cannot pay its bills, if it defaults, then the consequences for the U.S. economy will be significant and unpredictable. And that is not a good thing.”

Meanwhile, with as much apparent patience and good humor as he can muster, the President chides the GOP’s line in the sand against raising taxes for the richest Americans:

“If you are a wealthy C.E.O. or hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They are lower than they have been since the 1950s. And they can afford it. You can still ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to have to pay a little more.”

With his temperament, this is about far as Barack Obama will go with his impersonation of Harry Truman running for reelection against a “do-nothing, good-for-nothing” Congress in 1948 and, against all odds, winning reelection.

At least it’s a start.

Update: The President’s tone in yesterday’s news conference now becomes a political issue itself as pundits point out, “Showing a rarely seen passion, the president called out his rivals for their comments about him, saying they are ‘just not on the level’ and essentially accusing them of being crybabies who walk away from the discussions when the debate gets tough.”

There won’t be a total Obama abandonment of his congenital approach--reasonable, conciliatory, even professorial--but his inner Harry Truman is beginning to surface, just in time for not only this year’s battles with “a do-nothing, good-for-nothing Congress,” but next year’s political campaign.

Says the New York Times Caucus blog: “Mr. Obama’s more aggressive, confrontational tone will probably be welcomed by many in the president’s party who have been eager for him to fight for the causes they believe in.”

Amen to that.

Update Update: The President hangs tough with Senate Republicans and turns down their invitation to meet and hear them reiterate their tantrum position on the debt ceiling. The first step in dealing with schoolyard bullies is to turn your back on them.

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