Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is President Obama a wimp?

There is no question that Barack Obama is intelligent. There is no question that Barack Obama appears cool under pressure. There is no question that Barack Obama is a decent person.

But is the job of President of the United States too much for him to handle?

Is he, in other words, a wimp?

It's not hard to find editorial writers across the country who believe Mr. Obama lacks the persona to succeed as president. As an example, check out what one columnist writes in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Consider the debacle with the debt ceiling. The Democrats wanted to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000. The Republicans wanted to cut spending.
Obama said he'd go along with spending cuts if the Republicans would agree to some tax hikes. He was negotiating from a position of strength. The Republicans controlled only the House. The Democrats had the White House, the Senate and, more importantly, the people. Poll after poll showed that a majority of Americans favored raising taxes on the wealthy.
But it was Obama who backed down.
This was a fight he could have won. Consider hedge fund managers. On their earnings, they pay at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. According to a story last week in the Toronto Star, the top 25 hedge fund managers took home an average of $880 million last year. According to that same story, closing the loophole for hedge fund managers would save the Treasury $20 billion over 10 years.
Obama didn't think he could win that argument? He didn't just lose, either. He was pushed around. The speaker of the House wouldn't return his calls. Obama whined a little and turned the other cheek.
Of course, there are other opinion pieces that say much the same thing; and their collective weight offers encouragement to Republicans, who already are convinced Mr. Obama's election chances are fading
The Boston Globe says the president's perceived weakness is not the only problem in Washington. So, too, are politicians from both sides of the aisle who offer pithy (or worse) criticisms of each other at a time when the nation is demanding real leadership. 

One man who used to work for Mr. Obama also offered his criticisms today. He's Jon Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Is Mr. Obama a wimp? Let's set aside the obvious -- where you sit on the political spectrum is going to influence how you answer that question. Instead, however, let's examine the constant criticism offered of Mr. Obama's predecessor. How many times did we hear that Mr. Bush was stubborn? Didn't listen? Was a Texas cowboy determined to do things his way?

No, no one ever called him a wimp. But was Mr. Bush a stubborn man who refused to listen to competing ideas and wanted things to be done only his way? 

My point is this -- perception at some point becomes reality. And if stubborn became the word associated with Mr. Bush, then it is very possible that wimp will be associated with Mr. Obama.

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