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Quit Playing Nice, Obama - Just Get Things Done

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Quit Playing Nice, Obama - Just Get Things Done

Date: Monday, August 17, 2009, 2:48 pm
By: Deborah Mathis,

I am loathe to give President Obama my two cents’ worth on practically any topic because he and his key advisors are conspicuously savvy - Exhibit A being the very fact that he is President Obama and not “former presidential contender” Obama. That took some strategic chops that I don’t have.

So, I will present my advice as a “wish,” as in, “I wish President Obama would get off this bipartisanship kick and use his political advantages to do what he know he needs to do.”

Now, I don’t pretend for one moment that running a large, powerful and widely diverse country is as simple as going down a “to do” list. Nor do I believe that a president should blindly follow an agenda without consideration of conflicting views, needs and expectations. That’s what dictators do.

But I also know that a real leader has at least one truth that, for him or her, is unalterable, and when that truth collides with circumstances, that leader should either insist on making the circumstances match the truth or else surrender the title.

Like health care. I believe Obama holds as truth that every American deserves access to enough medical care to stay alive and well. And he obviously knows that, under the current circumstances, millions don’t have that access because they can’t cover the cost themselves and can’t get insurance to cover it for them.

From that collision point comes the current health care – or health care insurance – reform debate. Obama has done the right thing in putting the issue on the front burner.

But his insistence on playing nice with a party that is gunning for him is strangling the life out the rare opportunity to wield a political hammer – Democratic-controlled White House, Senate and House – and beat out a solution.

People often mistake kindness for weakness, but every now and then, they’re right. This appears to be one of those times. It’s as if the president believes he can charm every devil and shame every scoundrel into doing the right thing. But that presupposes that there is an intact conscience available. For many of the president’s political foes, there is no higher calling than the three power objectives: To get power, to keep power and to grow power. Simply put, they want to take Obama’s power from him and divvy it up among themselves.

Make no mistake; this is going to be a hard row to hoe. The administration is already beginning to show signs of caving into Republican mules – along with the so-called “Blue Dog Democrats,” hinting that it just might abandon the public option of health care – a gigantic group plan underwritten by the federal government.

But if he ditches the public option altogether, his true-blooded Democratic support is in jeopardy. So, in effect, the administration is entering the no-win zone.

However his plan ends up, I hope the president will take to heart the lesson that presents itself in regard to the bipartisan ideal. It should be attempted, it does require patience, and compromise is nearly always involved.

But sometimes you’ve got to face the fact that bipartisanship begins with an equal desire. It’s like being in love. If only one person feels it, it won’t work.

Far be it from me to urge the president of the United States to tell the opposition where to stick it.

But I wish he would.
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