Published On: Sat, Jul 30th, 2011

Obama’s Lack of Leadership – Inept Politician or A Calculated Reelection Tactic?

by Owen Marcus

“The Ryan Plan”. If you pay any attention to politics you have heard of the Ryan Plan. You generally know what it’s about and that it is a detailed approach to dealing with our nation’s budget woes. Like it or not, it is a specific solution proposed by an elected leader that has been debated a lot over the past few months.

Similarly, in the current debate on the debt ceiling, there can be no mistake that the House Republicans have a plan that they are pushing. At this point, that plan has emerged in the form of several pieces of legislation, revised along the way to account for political negotiation, as they try to craft a deal that will work for enough Members of the House and Senate to force the President to sign something into law.

But where is the President? What is the “Obama Plan”? I know, he wants everyone to be reasonable, find common ground, pay their fair share, and to do the right thing. But these are empty words in the form of speeches, tweets and emails to people who aren’t even reading them anymore. A real leader actualy does things, actually offers details in a real proposal to be debated, rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty at the negotiating table. Obama is like a teacher watching a violent fight break out in the hallways of a high school and standing at a podium telling everyone that a better solution is to talk things out and try to find common ground, all while tweeting everyone about how he would like to bring people together instead and blaming other teachers for not offering fair solutions to end the fight. Like them or not, the House Republicans seem like teachers willing to jump in and end the fight even if it means they could get hurt or face the ire of the combatants’ parents – maybe even lose their job.

Obama Administration White Paper on the Debt Crisis

A real fight is happening in Washington right now. And it’s an important fight over a generationally significant problem. Real fights and real problems don’t get solved through empty statements with no plans. They get solved through action. Why doesn’t Obama seem to have a plan that he is pushing? Is it simply because he is politically inept? In over his head and not sure what to do? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Actually, it seems clear that the President is seeing this debate through the lens of the 2012 election, and only through that lens. The calculation is simple. Everyone (almost everyone) agrees the debt ceiling needs to be raised. The Republicans and Democrats in Congress will posture, but in the end they have to come to some sort of a deal that raises the debt ceiling. So, Obama figures it actually hurts him to stick his neck out and propse a detailed plan like Speaker Bohener and the House Republicans, and even some key Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, have done. Much easier to stand back and act “presidential” by asking everyone to compromise and work together, all while assailing Republicans as unreasonable at any chance he gets. Then, a deal is reached in Congress, and he signs it while taking credit as the moderate politician who created a climate that made it possible for the deal to happen (all while actually offering virtually nothing of substantive value). After all, who is going tobeat him, the great orator and master campaigner, in 2012? Michelle Bachman? Mitt Romney? Pawlenty? Who are the other Republicans running again?

It is sad, but it is true. The President isn’t failing to lead because he isn’t capable. He is failing to lead because he actually thinks it will help him win in 2012 if he doesn’t offer any plans of his own. Remember, this is a president who ran on no record in 2008 and won because of his abiliity to inspire and instill hope through flowery prose and a warm disposition that made people feel good. He isn’t going to be able to do that again based on the record he has amassed thus far. So from here until 2012, we will see very little that can be considered the “Obama Plan” and a lot more of the tone of the 08′ campaign. Kind of like that nice speech from the White House last week. That wasn’t a policy speech designed to solve a problem. That was a campaign speech designed to get him reelected.

Hopefully the American people won’t fall for it. We simply can’t afford it – literally in the case of the current debate.

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