David Brooks column in NYT is making ripples all around. Bloggers like Megan McArdle joins the bandwagon. But all these critics undermine - even if acknowledge - that:
- Obama did offer twice the grand bargain which critics like David Brooks strongly urged GOP to accept but which preferred to bring down Obama and American Economy; and
- given the adopted GOP political strategy of 'scorched earth'; what can Obama do now which otherwise would have advanced a right policy for Americans?
Politics of GOP opposition is as simple as - anything this guy proposes, GOP has a political advantage in opposing despite any collateral damage to American Economy. To ignore this 'nihilism' of GOP while criticizing Obama is simply being 'partisan' of another type and at worst to be a bad, 'un-balanced' pundit.
Obama could have focused more on jobs and our economy in lieu of ObamaCare in first two years, that is a valid criticism. He tried to do too many things instead of prioritizing policy prescriptions. He should have accepted Simson-Bowles and should have firmly come behind that; is a valid judgement on Obama Presidency too. But having missed these calls, if you want to say that 'let Obama be one term president only'; then which president would have completed full 2 terms in recent past? All these past missed opportunities are water under the bridge. Question is what can he do now and here.
Being a leader to expect Obama to pull off 'a rabbit out of a hat' and to expect somehow GOP may sign anything what Obama proposes; is like expecting miracles. But adults do not live life on miracles. Truth is GOP would sign anything what Obama proposes, only if Obama has 'made the case successfully with Americans' for his proposals. That is the core of Politics - take it on the road and make serious attempts to convince Americans. So long as that works - and jury is out on that - GOP would see some political incentives in agreeing few things with Obama. To propose plans which will only get erudite reviews from Brooks and McArdle but have not addressed the underlying politics of it - we have seen where it all goes. It leads to S&P downgrade.
Obama will have a chance with Americans if he fights for a policy in which he demonstrates his convictions. A firm leader which withstands his political opposition, that is when Americans would bother about what he is saying. Capitulation to GOP - neither it generates public trust nor any good for America. Granted he behaved all that and still ObamaCare came short. But issues there are different - Obama and Democrats failed to make a strong case about the importance of containing health care costs for longer term sustainability of American Finances as well as to high light appropriate measures in the law which would have helped us to accomplish such cost containment. Lesson learned - passing a bill in absence of 'selling the policy on road' does not lead you anywhere. In a sense, politics comes first and policy after.