January 27, 2010
I just read an article on CNN by David Gergen, for whom I have a great deal of respect. This article, though, is ridiculous. Gergen basically argues that Obama has already lost all his ability to govern and the State of the Union address tonight is a waste of time. (The title of the piece is something like “State of the Union DOA?” Seems ridiculous to me. Other Presidents have gone through much rougher political patches than this, and it didn’t mean the end of their political agendas. Pundits and the President’s supporters (not to mention his opponents) need to remember that the Democrats still hold strong majorities in both houses of Congress, and that the President’s job approval is still far higher than that of Congress in general or Congressional Republicans in particular. It may make for splashy headlines to say that the State of the Union is “DOA” but that doesn’t make it true.
Gergen also says that the President needs “to move to the center” beginning tonight. I couldn’t disagree more. Moving to the center is not the solution. the Presdient has already capitulated too much to the GOP. What he needs to do is fight hard on a small number of core issues that will re-energize his base and attract the support of independents. He needs to call on the Senate to reconsider the deficit reduction panel, even if it means passing it through reconciliation (bypassing a cloture vote). He needs to fight hard for his tax on banks and for the financial reform package that has already passed the House. And he needs to come out hard for a new jobs package. Again, if the Senate can’t muster 60 votes for it, use reconciliation to get it through. The time for moving to the center and seeking “bipartisan” solutions is over. The Republicans have made it clear all year long that they’re not interested in working with the President. It’s time for him to whack them over the head with a political two-by-four.