Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Failure of Will?

Here’s E.J. Dionne’s diagnosis of, and prescription for, the “weird malaise . . . haunting the Democratic Party” (my emphasis):

“There is something preposterous about how the administration and congressional Democrats have lost every major public argument that they should be winning.

“They lost it on a stimulus bill that clearly lifted the economy, as Alan Blinder, the former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, argued persuasively in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. They are losing it on the health care bill, a big improvement on the current system enacted through a process that made it look like a tar ball on an Alabama beach. They are losing it on the deficit even as it was Republicans who cut taxes twice while the Bush administration was starting two wars.

“Obama is often criticized for being too professorial. The irony is that Republicans who have little to say about how to solve the nation's major problems are dominating the country's underlying philosophical narrative . . . .

“Professor Obama and his allies ought to be ashamed of this. The cure for malaise, defined as "a sensation of exhaustion or inadequate energy to accomplish usual activities," is to have a self-confident sense of purpose, and to act boldly in its pursuit.” 
Obama’s presidency may be lacking many things, but a “self-confident sense of purpose” isn't one of them.  Could he have been any more “self-confident" about his capacity to persuade voters that a massive stimulus bill was necessary or that the time had come for comprehensive health care reform? Could he have been any more "purpose[ful]" in the way he ruthlessly subordinated every competing consideration to realizing his two main domestic priorities? Could he have acted more “boldly” than enacting a stimulus bill with virtually no Republican support and lukewarm support from Democratic moderates or pushing ObamaCare through by means of reconciliation in the Senate in the face of the election results in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts?

The idea that Obama’s political troubles stem from a failure of will is too incredible to be anything but the residue of a psychic defense mechanism. What dissonant perception is Dionne working so hard to repress?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's your answer: the administration and congressional Democrats have lost every major public argument because they have bad arguments. Maybe the Democratic party could do a little more deep thinking and come up with some better ideas...