Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Two Cheers for Obama 2.0

Compared to the GOP do, the Democratic convention mood seems listless. Is it just that sanity is always more boring than madness? Or after four years, is Barack Obama no longer a novelty, even to his admirers?

Perhaps, but the underlying problem of reinventing an embattled President may go deep in this time of irrationality raised to the nth degree. Can the man Clint Eastwood wants to fire for not getting the job done say anything to reason with, inspire and persuade undecided voters?

If that’s the question this week, the consensus of informed observers, despite recommendations of their own, is probably not.

An early admirer David Brooks opines, “I wish he’d rise above the petty tactical considerations that have shrunk him over the past two years. I wish he’d finally define what he stands for...

“Four years ago, Obama said we could no longer postpone tackling the big problems. But now he seems driven by a fear of defeat. His proposals seem bite-size. If Obama can’t tell us the big policy thing he wants to do, he doesn’t deserve a second term.”

Others want him, against all the evidence of his temperament, to morph suddenly into FDR or LBJ, grab the body politic by its shoulders and shake it into responsiveness.

That won’t happen but, in the spirit of offering free advice that’s worth every penny it costs, there may be another choice.

Four years ago, Barack Obama stirred the nation with a speech that broadened the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy into a discourse on how Americans can overcome differences and move on together. This time his subject should be not race but bitterly prejudiced politics.

The re-emergence of that healing Barack Obama would be the most effective response to a national mood that has produced Romney-Ryan as the only alternative to continuing political chaos.

All reelection tactics aside, that Obama could be worth working for and fighting for again.


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