We expect another gauzy, “looking through thick bandages” speech from publicity stunt Obama tomorrow. “Lines in the sand” are promised by Obama cronies. At Big Pink we know sand is as shifty as Obama. For once “Simple Simon” at Politico agrees with us on the need for specificity:
This is no time for a lofty speech. We do not need inspiration. The time for inspiration has passed; the time for perspiration is at hand.
Even though the speech will be before Congress, this should not be a State of the Union address with soaring flights of rhetoric.
We need to know what the president wants. Specifically.
We need to know how he is going to pay for it. Specifically.
We need to know what he will accept and what he will reject. Specifically.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for those specifics, Simon.
* * * * *
Yesterday, the New York Times described the current state of play. It’s a “struggling presidency”:
President Obama returned to the White House from his summer break on Sunday determined to jump-start his struggling presidency by reasserting command of the health care debate and recalibrating expectations that some advisers believe got away from him.
With his honeymoon seemingly over and his White House on the defensive, Mr. Obama faces what friends and foes alike call a make-or-break moment in his young administration. Because he has elevated health care to such a singular priority, advisers said he must force through a credible plan or risk crippling his presidency.
If you elect a boob, expect boobery. An inexperienced, unqualified hand at the helm will soon find the ship in rough waters and then hit the rocky shoals.
It’s not just health care, now health insurance reform, on which Obama boobingly bumbles:
In the coming weeks, he will decide whether to order thousands more troops to Afghanistan and pursue new sanctions against Iran. He will host a meeting of the Group of 20 nations to spur the world economy and push forward with arms control negotiations with Russia. [snip]
An administration that swept into office just seven months ago on a wave of hope and optimism has burned through good will and public patience in swift fashion and now finds itself under fire from both the left and the right. [snip]
Can he form a health care compromise that satisfies both his liberal base and fiscal conservatives in his own party, much less the other one? Can he stanch the slide in support for the war in Afghanistan even as he considers sending more troops? Can he soothe discontent with an economy that appears to have bottomed out but remains moribund? Can he change the tenor of debate in a capital that seems as polarized as ever?
Where is the “uniter”? Like George W. Bush, Obama promised “unity” but brings division. Now all those PINOs who denounced Hillary Clinton as too “polarizing” make excuses for divisive Obama.
Hillary Clinton had “scars” from fights with political opponents who smeared her at every turn, but her scars came from fighting for what she believes in. Obama’s wounds are all from running through the brambles running away from the fight.
Bill Clinton too has scars from fighting. Bill Clinton too had difficulties in his early months. But Bill Clinton fought wisely and did not authorize massive slush funds in “stimulus” that the congress was hungry for in order to grease reelection. Obama spent like a drunken sailor on shore leave, gambling with other peoples’ money.
Obama made elected officials happy with spend, spend, spend policies. The money came from taxpayers.
The taxpayers are not happy and that is why Obama has scheduled another publicity stunt speech:
Obama faces September deadlines on three issues, on each of which he could get himself in political trouble, not only with those on the right and center but also those on the political left.
Only one of those issues is domestic: health care. Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress, scheduled rather hastily for Wednesday night, gives him a chance to turn around public opinion, which has been going against his policies, and to generate something like the enthusiasm his candidacy created last year.
But he faces a binary choice: The president must either insist on a “government option” insurance plan or must let it be known that he will sign a bill without one. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t pass a bill without the government option, and leftist Progressive Caucus members threaten to withhold their votes from any such bill. But Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad says a government option bill can’t pass the Senate.
Sooner or later the old politician’s dodge — “some of my friends are for the bill and some of my friends are against the bill, and I’m always with my friends” – won’t wash. As a practical matter, Obama will surely sign a bill without the government option, and the Progressive Caucus most likely can be whipped into line by Pelosi. But the always angry left will become even more angry at their leader when these realities are acknowledged.
The boobery is not only on domestic concerns.
Obama may also face a binary choice on Afghanistan. Reading between the lines of stories on Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendations, it seems likely that the White House has been pressuring him not to ask for more troops and that he will do so anyway, and with the approval of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
“No preconditions” Obama has a problem with Iran too.
Earlier this year he set a deadline of September for the beginning of talks with Iran. Presumably he thought the mullahs would become convinced of his good will by now and that the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York would be a venue for talks.
But the popular opposition to the rigged Iranian elections in June and the internal turmoil within the mullah regime make it unlikely that Obama will have any reliable negotiating partner. And as George Perkovich of the dovish Carnegie Endowment says, “The Iranians show no sign that they’re going to be genuinely prepared to negotiate.” They’re more interested in getting nukes than in getting to yes, even with a president with an Arabic middle name.
Obama is running the ship of state aground. We’re in shallow water under direction of a shallow man.
Full fathom five thy father lies
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes