Ezra Klein is out with President Obama's Defense. It is an admirable attempt and a tragic tale of American Politics. But I do not agree with his take. Here are my responses:
- The most important aspect of Leadership is precisely about discovering what works in changed times. If standard 'political playbook works' (traditional bipartisanship); then it is great. Measure of a leader will be how far that leader stretches the society with what works. If 'standard political playbook does not work' - which is what the current situation is - then it is the job of a leader to find what works. That is what Reagan did with his 'Morning in America' politics and that is what Thatcher did with her 'stick'. Another way to say, no one needed to tell Steve Jobs about how to invent new products for prosperity. He did those innovations on his own. That is what is required from President Obama. Not that he is not capable. Reality is he is 'way ahead of the curve' when it comes to deploying Big Data and Social Media. He has been the pioneer in using Internet in mobilizing vast number of voters who generally do not vote. Very likely those are the exact techniques President Obama will need to use to undertake 'micro mobilization' at each constituency level to pressure the recalcitrant Congressional Republicans. He has not been taking that path whereas OFA is simply a start. (I agree, in some sense I am towing Bob Woodward line that "Presidents find their will through Congress". Where I differ is Woodward refused his basic journalistic responsibilities in not apportioning the blame which rightfully belongs to Republicans. It is all right to keep prodding our President to find a way out; but we as citizens must demand basic accountability from Republicans. Story of America in Obama times is Tea Party has been able to get scot-free for all the havoc they have wrecked upon Americans. Woodward fails in pointing culpability of Republicans and that is where I differ from him.)
- Ezra further says in his defense of President Obama:
"But politicians understand their incentives. Republican legislators have to win primaries among electorates that deeply dislike President Obama. In that world, working with the White House very likely means losing your job. It also means making Obama more popular, which means making it less likely that you and your party will get back into the majority in the next election"
OK, then is President Obama making it fait accompli to these Republican legislators that more they oppose Obama agenda, more they pay 'political price'? If Republicans find it hard to co-operate, then make it politically expensive for them to oppose Obama Agenda. That is possible only if President 'explains how precisely opposing Obama Agenda' is equivalent to pulling down Americans. If Paul Krugman does his job to explain 'lunacy of austerity'; what is stopping President Obama to talk these 'truths' to Americans directly?
- Finally, Ezra concludes by saying
"But it’s deeply insulting to the grown men and women who populate the U.S. Congress to posit that the only reason they’re acting as they are is that the president doesn’t lavish them with sufficient attention, or campaign in their districts, or twist arms like Lyndon Johnson. Give Congress a bit more credit than that. Like the president at the White House correspondents’ dinner, they take this stuff seriously."
I can believe any such seriousness of Congress if they had 'alternative solutions to our problems'. Their alternatives are 'Sequester' which is pushing down America further down! In other words, Congress is for sure not believable. They do NOT take welfare of Americans seriously.
We will believe that when Paul Ryan has integrity to come forward and say 'austerity only' is not a solution of America's problems in light of recent developments - R&R fiasco, implosion of Merkel and Cameroon austerity in Europe while Japan finally going with gusto to QE. We will believe in seriousness of Congress when Republicans do not pull down Eric Cantor who is trying to calibrate his views. Until then denying the reality of "Republicans in Congress are pulling down this country" is essentially Stockholm Syndrome on behalf of Ezra Klein.