By Don Klein
Barack Obama is coming under a great deal of criticism lately and to a large extent he deserves it. His popularity is way down. Even on the campaign trail this critical year, Democrats are opting for former President Bill Clinton to campaign for them rather than the current president. To many it seems his usefulness is waning.
Obama’s major flaw seems to be his inability to make any noticeable progress with the weak economy which appears to be getting even weaker with every statistical report. His victories in health care and stricter Wall Street regulations are pyrrhic – no Democrat in a tough race this year mentions either if they can be avoided.
He also has run into and unexpected flaw. You would think someone with Obama’s oratorical skills would be able to reach out and transmit his thoughts effectively to ordinary people. Many have the feeling he is too cerebral in determining and explaining policy as well as being too oblivious to outlandish criticism. He is not effective with rank and file voters.
At times he seems to be a replica of Adlai Stevenson with the inclination to speak over the heads of grass roots types and at other times he behaves like another Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, during his disastrous 2004 campaign in not explaining with clarity where he stands on issues. There isn’t that fire in his personality that so many admired during the last election campaign.
Let it be clear that I reject all the off-the-wall criticisms hurled at Obama by what I call the lunatic fringe. Glenn Beck can call Obama phony names and weirdos can question where he was born and whether or not he is a Muslim. These facts do not enter into my political equation. I am looking at the real Obama, not the false one painted by mean-spirited political morons.
Evaluating his real problems, there are the times when Obama stubs his toes making totally unnecessary statements about circumstances that have no bearing on his office nor reflect on his moral responsibility. Many of Obama's off-the-cuff remarks make people cringe. The minute he entered the Cambridge brouhaha without fully understanding what went on between the professor and the police officer, nor having any definable presidential purpose, everyone but he knew it was a serious error.
Experts in public relations and those who toil for years in government service know that there are times you don't have to express an opinion, especially if it has nothing to do with your job.
There are a number of other incidents like that where we find Obama plunging into issues he doesn’t have to. At present I think of the New York mosque dispute. He propelled it into a national scene when in essence the matter was solved by the people of New York city. Now it is being used by a looney Florida pastor as a bargaining chip in his Qur’an-burning threat.
Personally I do not like the advice he is getting on many levels. To push so hard for health care reform all of last year and to settle for a washed down version when the major problem in the country was jobs is another misdirected effort. He seems to be more concerned about how history will treat him as the first president to succeed on health care than solving urgent current problems.
The only thing that keeps Obama in good stead is the outrageous GOP policy of obstructionism, and its love affair with the kooks of the Tea Party. This disastrous Republican strategy will save Obama from defeat in 2012 and might even mitigate the likely, or potential, losses of Congressional Democrats in this November's off year elections.
The trouble with American politics is that on one side we have an inexperienced and spontaneously miss-speaking president and on the other side a callous, leaderless and abusive opposition. One could conclude the nation is on the brink of chaos as a result.
During the primary campaign I supported Hillary Clinton on the grounds she had the experience and the balls to do what a president sometimes has to do. I supported Obama when Hillary was eliminated in the primaries. There was no choice in the general election since McCain-Palin was a joke ticket that would appeal only to rock-ribbed Republicans and simpletons.
I also supported Obama because I had the hope that he would deliver the country from the madness of the Bush-Cheney years. The added attraction was that I liked Obama. He was the kind of man I could vote for. But he has degenerated the upbeat support I once had for him to what has become the norm for me in past general elections – the choice of the lesser of two evils.
Now the question is what do we do about it? Given that the GOP appears ready to oppose Obama in 2012 with Gingrich or Palin, the choice is clear. I will swallow a handful of Aleve and vote for Obama.
To me, the Republicans are the most demoniacal of political parties. First they gave us the village idiot, George W. Bush. No need to go into specifics about him. Then by offering the senseless choice of McCain-Palin in 2008 and very likely Gingrich or Palin in 2012, they have almost guaranteed a second term of an inexperienced and often misdirected Obama.
Talk about history. It looks like we are standing on the precipice of the fateful end of the American reign of world power. The chill up my spine is caused by not knowing which budding foreign power will pick up the reins of leadership when America drops it. I see no qualified candidate for the job.