Unresolved Issue: What Will Obama Do?
December 31, 2010
(ChattahBox Op/Ed News) This will be my last column for the year and as much as I want it to be a pep talk or a direct conversation with you about how amazing 2011 will be it would be a smoke screen at best. I am worried about plenty of issues and I am vastly concerned about Democratic leadership as we begin anew in a few shorts days. The number one question for Democrats and Progressives is who will President Obama be and what will President Obama do? They are two very separate and critical questions.
These are my guesses based on what Obama strategically has to do to begin his run for reelection which starts with the swearing in of the 112th Congress. He no longer enjoys any honeymoon period and every decision he makes and every conversation he has will impact how he and the country move forward. I fear that he must be more centrist, and that will not sit well with Progressives who will want him to be much more assertive and transformational and like it or not what you got the first two years is what you are going to get. The last two years are as liberal as President Obama will ever be unless he is reelected. Obama’s move to the center of the political spectrum was forced by a confluence of events that culminated with a mid term elections and a fumbling of his own message late this year.
The Pelosi led House of Representatives and the Reid led Senate were so bad at message as had been documented over and over again, all that was accomplished over the past two years basically was unappreciated and unnoticed by the electorate or so twisted and perverted by Republicans that the same electorate kept hitting the Republican pipe every time it was passed their way, call it Republican dope if you must.
President Obama’s “do” list is not as much his option now as it is now the Republican “do” list, that is a political reality. His “be” list is something that he controls and as you’ll read in a second this is where the real battle lies.
Republicans will be focusing on the following in the upcoming weeks. Jobs, budget, find a pet cause they can win, i.e. reversing Health Care Reform (they won’t win this one and I don’t believe they will try), radical social service program funding, etc. And blame everything that is wrong with the country on Obama and the Democrats. As juvenile as the last item may seem it could be effective as easily demonstrated over the past two years.
How President Obama responds to the Republican agenda and mantra will be the clear marker as to how he will lead. If he doesn’t come out swinging and not stop swinging until he is reelected he has no chance of making or having any tremendous victories. As Republicans have been tagged as the “Party of No” for two years, and they have demonstratively been, they don’t have to accomplish much to be successful and if things don’t move along as we need them to they will have no compunction about blaming the President. It’s their job and they do it well. This is politics after all and there really are no rules. So the issue of what will President Obama “be” is a critical issue indeed and at this point it is in the balance.
This column is not about what I personally want him to be because he can’t be that guy now, clearly. I need him to be reelected because he is the only option that fits my personal beliefs. We know him to be what we need him to be: a leader, a visionary, a big picture thinker, a revolutionary change maker and a fierce competitor. We just need him to show up and do that with the only caveat being with an agenda he has less control over.
His veto pen is a powerful tool and must be exercised often if necessary. Even if he loses some of the battles he must set himself apart from the fray and the use of the veto pen will allow him to do his own finger pointing. He also must demand, and I do mean demand, that Reid and Pelosi start speaking and leading with abandon. He must make it crystal clear to them that the future of the Democratic Party rests completely on how well they move the message and how effectively they attack. Obama will lead by example and the supporting cast has to follow suit. If that happens that will go a long way toward appeasing the Progressive base and that will be important.
Obama won the last election in large part because he appealed to independent voters, who voted Republican in the mid terms, but the independent voter is more comfortable with a Democrat then they will ever be with a Republican. If Obama find the center while fighting for the base of his Party, he can and will be an effective leader.
So as I bid you adieux for 2010 I hold some hope for a cantankerous and powerful 2011. If the Republicans waste time and energy investigating the Obama administration and forcing a false agenda on he American people instead of bringing action and policy that can be measured and debated, they lose and lose fast.
Let me leave you with this: if President Obama leads with courage and conviction, if he stops negotiating and starts demanding, we all win. In that regard we benefit from a Republican majority. Next week as new members are sworn in and as Republicans grab the podium and microphone, all President Obama should say, and with a smile I might add, is “bring it on”. If he does that I will be ready to support him once more.
Happy New Year!
Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com and can read his Blog at http://www.mediatraining.me