Three weeks into the job and Obama may have just reaslied he has to toughen up if he is to stay ahead of the great Republican machine and pass the legislation his team wants to get through – after all, they won the election didn't they?
The day before Obama’s inauguration Eugene Robinson, a deputy editor of the Washington Post and MSNBC commentator, stood before a private function and lamented that the time a black guy finally gets to run the government just happens to be the time that everything is broken.
In elegant prose, the equally elegant African American Mr Robinson outlined the horrors that were awaiting Obama the next day on taking the Oath of Office. They were horrors known to all at the time, but as we all now know that was just the beginning. The White House and all it represents is so broken that the billions and trillions and gazillions of dollars being bandied about now as the cost of the remedying America's tanking economy are so unfathomably huge as to have been rendered almost meaningless.
Welcome to the giant game of steroid monopoly. Have a nice day.
It is not out of the realms of possibility to picture ‘W’ happily biking around his millionaire’s paradise in Texas, whistling away as he contemplates his job well done and his huge personal bank balance. It is not out of the question to imagine Cheney at a desk furiously rewriting history and counting his mounting millions (although it is not easy to rid the mind of the blanketed old guy in the wheelchair at the inauguration but let’s be a little charitable).
Unfortunately, our mind's eye isn't required to see their ilk still left in the Senate and the House turning up to cocktails with the new President, going to the Beltway hob-nob dinners, yet remaining incapable of clearing an ideological blockage to the stimulus package.
Now the Obama change regime would not be expecting a few free drinks to sway political opponents. That’s no longer the way things are to be done (give or take a few self-proclaimed appointment stuff-ups and Geithner, it is supposed to be Different. Now).
What Obama has been trying to do is reach across the party aisles as promised, to include Republican brains in the solution. He’s included Republicans in his Cabinet, which is unheard of in recent US cabinet-making.
What he was rewarded with was a calculating, and it must be said very effective, campaign to turn the stimulus package into a perceived spending-only package. Republican strategists were winning the PR war with an underlying ethos: stimulus good; spending bad.
Obama of course hit back – finally – with a vigorous election rally type answer. A stimulus involves spending otherwise what do you think it is? Duh! The President also took to the road when he realised the way through this Republican blockage was going to have to include a public denouncing of a tried and failed tax-cut-only solution.
In the end, overnight, Obama has won – sort of. His package has been cut to just under $800 billion, or gazillion, or whatever. Most importantly however it was passed in the end thanks to the White House agreeing to a few more tax breaks coupled and a little light bi-partisanship. Three of the 219 Republican Senators – Specter (Pennsylvania), plus Snow and Collins (Maine) – broke rank. In the case of Specter, he has probably done himself in when it comes to the next elections.
And talking of elections, what is Obama on about talking about a one-term presidency when he’s been in the job only three weeks? Yes, it's difficult to believe. Three weeks. Seeing him and hearing him and reading him constantly adds to the feeling he’s been around for yonks and if anything could be accused of hogging the talkie-stick on every issue.
Any thought of over-exposure however has to be put aside due to the entire country’s over-exposure... in a purely economic sense, that is. History tells us that over-exposure for politicians tends to end in tears as it necessarily exposes the sorts of things they usually like to keep in a closet or twelve. But for the moment, over-exposure seems to be what a worried world is craving. Mr Cool is what is needed, but sans the threats of failure within four years, thank you.
Note to the President: Toughen up. Remember who won the election. Realise Republicans may well not want the stimulus package to pass let alone stimulate. Even less so do they want you to succeed. But that’s their job. Drop the chat about being a one-term Pres. That’s exactly what your opponents want. Duh to you! Politics 101 determines they will blame absolutely everything that goes wrong on the preceding Obama era, despite the fact they broke the toys before handing them over – and they broke them good ’n hard.
Surely your grandmother warned you to be careful what you wish for.