Obama on the defensive, but doesn’t need to be

A win in the Massachusetts election for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy on Jan. 19 provided a spark of hope for the Republican Party.

Scott Brown did what all his peers have been trying to do — marginalize President Barack Obama.

The route Brown took was simple; he ran on a platform contrary to what Obama has been pushing for, mainly health care.

Never mind the fact that Massachusetts has one of the best health care programs in the country and that the program itself was a model for what Obama was proposing, or that it was passed by Republicans with the help of Mitt Romney.

The peculiar thing about the recent success of Scott Brown is the way he managed to achieve success without aligning himself too closely to either party while withholding the specifics of his plans.

Obama won the presidency because his campaign was very specific in its intentions.

If there was an instance when Obama did not directly address a policy, he was specific about how he differed from the opposition.

The only reason why there is no true way to tell if Obama is losing traction now, it’s because he has failed to remain as bold as he once was.

The president went from national briefings to interviews on 60 Minutes.

In a political arena where the opposing party or group does its best to mock and ridicule, Obama could benefit from more national exposure.

A mere four months ago, Obama was addressing congress on health care reform when Rep. Joe Wilson caused an outburst that demonstrated the overall attitude of the party across the aisle.

The president’s problem still stretches longer than outbursts and criticism from opponents.

Obama’s complacency, or appearance of being so, is what has contributed mostly to his political sputtering and dithering altogether.

The president could greatly benefit from a double dose of honest policy rhetoric and a triple shot of authoritative toughness.

Obama would be well served to understand that the saying “what they don’t know won’t hurt them,” is simply not true. He needs to realize that what people don’t know, will ultimately hurt him.

As the Republican Party tries to capitalize off Scott Brown’s election to Congress, the president needs to remind Americans that many of the problems we have were not directly caused by his administration.

Obama needs to be clear that the only things delaying progress are childish reelection battles.

It seems as though partisan politics has always been about looking good and sitting pretty until elections roll around.

Right now, Obama seems to be too passive, too unwilling to direct the blame to its proper origins.

In a New York Times article published Jan. 17, Paul Krugman wrote about Obama’s narrative and used his own wisdom to relate Obama to the likes of Ronald Reagan.

“It’s instructive to compare Mr. Obama’s rhetorical stance on the economy with that of Ronald Reagan,” Krugman wrote. “It’s often forgotten now, but unemployment actually soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. Reagan, however, had a ready answer for critics: everything (that is) going wrong was the result of the failed policies of the past.”

Krugman’s point is astute; Obama is often criticized on the deficit, unemployment and bailouts. He has been too quick to let Americans forget that it was the Bush administration that originally created the deficit with a war that was both unfounded and underestimated.

It was Bush’s economic experts who for eight years in office overlooked all the signs that pointed to economic catastrophe.

Also, the Bush administration cut the first check to bailout General Motors.

These are valid accusations that Obama has not taken advantage of, despite how much he should.

Whether Obama fears the backlash from political pundits or he’s trying to still be the magical statesman who unifies the government that he leads is moot; at this point, he’s losing an uphill battle.

Andrew Taylor is an economics senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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