I’ve posted several “news roundup” blogposts, like my piece called “That Hope and Change Stuff” (http://paulstroble.blogspot.com/2011/10/that-hope-and-change-stuff.html). Lately I’ve felt tired of politics and have been doing other kinds of research. But recently I found an interesting article in the November 23-29, 2013 issue of “The Economist.” I’m just now finding time to read it.
The title article is about the president, “The man who used to walk on water” (pp. 15-16). The writer notes that Obama certainly inherited difficult problems: two awful wars, the worst economy in decades, and congressional Republicans who are largely to blame for the American political mess. Nevertheless, blaming others only gets you so far, and the president is not using the “bully pulpit” of the presidency in ways that command domestic and international respect.
For instance, although the ACA is the major domestic reform of his presidency, no one seems to have been in charge of its implementation, and the website has been terrible to use. The insurance system in Massachusetts works well, and the basic idea of the ACA (according to the writer) is sound. But Obama’s lack of “interesting in details and a disdain for business” has been disheartening (p. 15).
The debacle has also caused people to doubt the presidents honesty, considering that he has promised repeatedly that people who liked their insurance could keep their policies, but that just hasn’t been true, and people are losing their policies.
The president's vision is great but his apparent disinterest in details, as well as his failure to build relationships, may cost him his legacy. The article writer continues that he really does little effective relationship-building, even with his own party leaders, nor with international heads of state.
On the other hand, the president can be decisive, as with the attack upon Osama bin Laden and the recent efforts in the Philippines. He could still tackle immigration reform and help fix for the long haul America’s financial situation. “Fixing those problems would require Mr Obama to discover both Clintonian skills of triangulation and some Republicans who don’t hate him” (p. 16). The article in this issue “Emergency surgery” (pp. 31-32) goes into more detail about these various challenges.