Sunday, September 6, 2009
News Talk Online September 7, 2009: Is The Criticism Sticking To Obama?
Podium's waiting, what will Obama say next?
It's not been a particularly good week for the president.
An aide has resigned under onslaught championed by Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck who labeled Van Jones a communist and more - but not nearly as repulsive as Jones calling Republicans "assholes."
There's mounting protests to the health reform bill - so much so that President Obama will try to wipe the slate clean with a Wednesday address to a joint session of Congress - one that will bring the nation his vision of what health care funding should look like. Just what we need, yet another set of proposals to further complicate this extremely complicated debate.
And his undoubtedly well intentioned scheduled Tuesday address to schoolchildren to express to them the importance of education been terribly politicized - starting with criticism from the right that suggests that the president is trying to poison the minds of impressionable young people. Now some parents who fear the president will be planting the seed of socialism in their children are threatening to keep their kids home if their schools will be bringing the president's address. And some who support the president are threatening to keep their children home if their schools aren't letting the students see and hear the president. If it wasn't a politically charged issue when he first announced it - it's certainly become one now.
This has all resulted in slipping approval ratings for the president over the summer - but the latest polls are probably causing the political brain trust in the White House particular angst. Indications are that he's losing support of some whites - including Democrats and independents - and this is threatening to tear apart the coalition that ensured his victory in November.
Some on the right are celebrating and are already looking forward to sweeping changes in Congress during mid-term elections - hoping - they are - that the Democrats lose control of the House. Others are even farther seeking - they are optimistically predicting that Obama is - already - destined to be a one-term president. Their main concern is who is best positioned to replace him among the Republican presidential wannabes.
But history has shown that there are ebbs and flows to the popularity of presidents and it's probably too early to start crafting Obama's political obituary. That being said, the trends we see today are reflective of a degree of discontent among the citizenry. If Obama is as smart as he appears, he'll take note and adjust.
One of the first things he should do is announce that we're going back to the health reform drawing board and invite Republicans, independents, doctors and health insurers to the table to try to craft something that's palatable to all. Perhaps whatever reform is presented should be incremental. Perhaps we have to take baby steps before we, as a nation, run for the health reform finish line. Get the country used to the fact that things are changing. Don't hit everyone over the head and force things down our throats so quickly that we don't have time to digest it.
I doubt that that's what we'll hear on Wednesday. That's too bad. Because there is need for health reform in the nation. But moving too quickly and too arbitrarily on the issue could doom it to another failure.
The first president to push health reform was Harry Truman. We've waited decades to get to this point. If this isn't handled properly - it could be defeated on principle - and it may be decades more before the United States improves its health care system.