It looks like President Obama has been reading our blogs and is finally going to use his bully pulpit to go directly to the American people to explain his stimulus plan on his terms.
President Obama will significantly ramp up his salesmanship of his economic stimulus plan over the next week with a prime time news conference planned for Monday and an address from the Oval Office on the topic also being considered.
I've said repeatedly that the Republicans are forgetting that Obama is an incredible communicator and when Obama does use it, they will pay. If the media hadn't acted so irresponsibly the past two weeks and President Obama hadn't tried to be so bipartisan, he might not have had to take to the airwaves, but that's not the case anymore. As Michael Hirsh says:
The reason Obama is getting so few votes is that he is no longer setting the terms of the debate over how to save the economy. Instead the Republican Party--the one we thought lost the election--is doing that. And the confusion and delay this is causing could realize Obama's worst fears, turning "crisis into a catastrophe," as the president said Wednesday.
Obama's desire to begin a "post-partisan" era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day.
The decisive issue here is leadership. The lack of it is what is plaguing the Obama administration. Every war needs a successful general, and this administration doesn't have one yet.
I think the administration thought they could be mediators between the two parties rather than leaders of the Democratic party. That just won't work, particularly when the Democrats aren't very good at battling the Republicans in close combat and the Republicans can make those who stay above the fray seem lightweight and insubstantial, which is what they've managed to do. They've showed they don't respect Obama and are unimpressed with his mandate -- the administration needs to accept that and strategize with that in mind.
He said today that bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake is not desirable. He should just drop that whole schtick. He can have the cocktail parties and the get-togethers and talk to them all he wants. And if they happen to have a good idea (very doubtful) then fine. But they are going to represent their narrow interests because that's what they believe their constituents want. That's the way the system works. They aren't partners, they're political adversaries and they remain adversaries even when there is an emergency at hand. Accept that and fight it out on the merits.
I was hoping for the Republicans to obstruct him like they have so he would stop serving them cookies and crumpets to try and coax the right wing punditocracy to help him pass his legislation. That was never going to happen. Republican Pete Sessions said that the House Republicans are the new Taliban now. I kid you not..
That's when Texas Rep. Pete Sessions compared House Republicans to the Taliban, the fundamentalist Muslim terrorist group that has targeted U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Sessions' staff insists he wasn't lauding the Taliban's goals, only their tactics. See what you think:
Insurgency we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban. And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban -- no, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their front line message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.
Sessions should apologize immediately for this statement. How insane is it that Sessions identifies his own party with the group that housed Osama Bin Laden? I thought they wanted to catch Bin Laden, not be like him. Are the Taliban going to run ads now that say I want to be like Bin Laden? So the American Taliban (House Republicans) want President Obama to fail and they will act like the Taliban to do it. I saw the press asking Gibbs if Obama was dropping bipartisanship earlier today. When will the press ask the New Taliban why they want to be associated with our enemies in battle.
This has been a big lesson for President Obama. May he learn it well.
John Amato is the founder of CrooksandLiars.com.