Presidents lead, they don't manage. Bill Clinton understood that, so did Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama hasn't been very good to date leading fights. He only has a couple of months to get out in front before the memes for 2010 mid-year elections are set in stone.
The Health Care Reform debate was a prime example. Republicans ran roughshod over the battlefield for months making outrageous and spurious attacks while the Democrat's leader sat in his tent trying to find some sort of compromise that everyone outside of his tent knew was impossible. That Obama emerging from his tent and mounting his steed for the very last charge was able to turn the tide of battle showed how important a Fighting President can be.
On the economy, the Republicans anti-jobs, anti-unemployed, help-the-rich strategy should be a gold-plated gift to Democrats. Yet is seems to languish unexploited except in a few local races (Harry Reid). As Reid points out, "[Obama] is a person who doesn't like confrontation. He's a peacemaker. And sometimes I think you have to be a little more forceful." (source)
Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft. ~ Teddy RooseveltThe two biggest anchors around Obama's neck are Tim Geithner and Rahm Emanuel. Geithner I wrote about yesterday, believes the only constituency worth caring about are the very richest investment bankers. Emanuel believe so strongly in the art of the backroom deal that he thinks President Obama should never take a strong public stance lest he hinder the private deal making.
Also, Emanuel believes the Republican lie that that the American people are innately conservative so he is trying to hide any inkling of liberalism. Obama has been low profiled on extending unemployment benefits because that is a liberal position when he should be growing horse denouncing hard-hearted Republicans. What the American people want is a firm hand on the tiller and they will support a Reagan or a Clinton with equal fervor as long as they get things done.
As a consequence of Geithner and Emanuel, President Obama is developing the worst possible reputation for a president, weak. Strong words against BP were quickly silenced after Republicans attacked Obama even though the American people would have supported marching BP executives in front of a firing squad. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be emasculated if Geithner succeeds in block the best person it lead it, Elizabeth Warren, and President Obama will look like he is kowtowing to hated hedge fund managers.
This is not meant to be an attack on President Obama so much as a caution. He is far and away better than George Bush Jr. If the Bush Administration was being waterboarded while have wires attached to my testicles, the Obama Administration is a gentle slap to the face. But, I'd much rather have him turn around to slap, punch, and eye gouge Republicans then softly rebuking me for being too liberal.