Monday, January 25, 2010

Putting His Long Pants On

One of the reasons I endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the primaries two years ago was my concern that Obama might not have the ability to put up a tough enough fight, whereas Clinton was battle-tested.
Apparently, Obama himself has come to that realization:

WASHINGTON—Coming off one of the most difficult weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has beefed up his political staff and is expected to deliver an uncompromising State of the Union address. Aides said Sunday that the White House wasn't making any abrupt policy shifts, even as the message was retooled to focus more sharply on job creation.

If anything, an unfinished agenda from 2009 will grow larger as, in addition to tackling health care and unemployment, the president presses for a bipartisan commission to tackle the budget deficit against resistance from Republicans.

White House officials said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe would be brought on as a political consultant as the White House gears up for the midterm elections.

The president's party is facing a stiff headwind from an electorate angry about high unemployment and what they see as ineffectual government, White House officials said. Republican Scott Brown's capture of the Massachusetts Senate seat Tuesday was a first shot in what Democrats worried would be hard-fought contests in November.

Now, I can't really argue much with Obama's decision to try to be bipartisan and conciliatory. After all, we just spent sixteen years dealing with an uberhostile Republican party that was soundly and thoroughly drubbed for two straight election cycles. You'd think they learned their lesson.
Too, he use a euphemism, so his entire administration was going to be viewed thru a lens different than any other president's would be. He had to grab hold of the same courage that Jackie Robinson did, and be above reproach.
But circumstances changed as the economy dropped into the toilet, and the political dialogue of this nation was shaped by a relatively small band of extremists known as Teabaggers. An astute politician would have sniffed the change and changed his strategy. Obama did not, but it might not be too late.
And that whole "above reproach" theme, while noble, was shattered as the Teabaggers became more noxious, uglier and more strident in their approach, particularly after lifting Glenn Beck up on their shoulders and carrying him around.
Barack Obama came out of the Chicago school of politics, which might actually be nastier and more brutal than its school of economics. I have little doubt that when he decides to roll up his sleeves and stop playing nice in the sandbox, mudpies will be flung. Bringing in David Plouffe, who managed Bob Toricelli's Senate campaign. Toricelli, who came up thru the New Jersey political machine, was a tough-as-nails politician who had no problem in playing dirty.
The sense I get from the Plouffe return is President Obama, who has been willing to let things hatch out, looking longer term, needs someone in place to get him to the next step in his vision. Plouffe is a plain-spoken, bare-knuckles, no nonsense type of guy who can do that.