Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Presidential Persistence and Focus

Two months have taken a toll on Barack Obama, who came into office offering change and is now promising persistence.

He finished his news conference last night citing the St. Patrick's Day celebration of "previously sworn enemies" from Ireland in the White House as proof that time and effort can solve intractable problems.

"And what that tells me," he said "is that, if you stick to it, if you are persistent, then these problems can be dealt with.

"That whole philosophy of persistence, by the way, is one that I'm going to be emphasizing again and again in the months and years to come as long as I'm in this office. I'm a big believer in persistence."

The New York Times sums up its account of the news conference this way:

"Throughout his time in public life, Mr. Obama has confronted questions about whether he was too detached, too analytical, too intellectual. In the campaign, he was as likely to be compared to Adlai E. Stevenson as he was to John F. Kennedy. And if there is a pattern to Mr. Obama, it is to lumber through periods like this and then become intense and animated at the first sign of trouble.

"Over the long term, Mr. Obama’s calm has served him well, in particular at the critical moment in the campaign when the economy began its steep slide."

What this omits is the ability Obama shares most with JFK--to stay focused. Of all presidents since then, he most clearly exhibits the quality that not only gave Americans confidence in Kennedy's intelligence but created the kind of emotional connection that has not been seen since.

Today Obama faces the task of negotiating with Congressional leaders, most importantly of his own party, over the size and scope of the budget. Then he goes to Mexico to deal with the growing drug war on our borders and on to the G20 summit over the crashing world economy.

As he moves through this series of intense tests of his leadership, the one reassuring certainty is that Obama will keep his eye on the ball.


DaveinHackensack said...

I'm glad at least you felt reassured.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stein,
You speak of yourself as having"old geezer wisdom"..yet you fail to see the obvious...Mr. Obama is a clueless nitwit. My bulldog has more focus. How much spending us into twilight must you see to shake those cob webs in your head? You seem like a decent and productive person.. It's amazing how one perceives another...and you and I are at polar ends on this president.

Anonymous said...

"reassuring" and "focussed" are not the two adjectives that immediately come to mind when listening to The One pontificate..."inept" and "contradictory" seem more appropriate, at least based on his performance so far....