Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Two Takes on Obama and the Stimulus

One, he is screwing up:

A changed tone in Washington, if costless, would be a wonderful thing. But voters put Obama and Democratic majorities into office in order to get results. If Obama chooses to embrace Republicans even as they actively work against the interests of the vast majority of Americans, then we have to question his judgment. It takes two to change the tone. Republicans aren’t interested, and they’re using his overtures to undermine the American economy and the Obama presidency. Obama’s mandate is his to deploy or squander, and the speed with which he has lost control of the storyline on stimulus suggests that he has miscalculated in figuring how much magnanimity that mandate affords him.
Two, he is doing exactly the right thing:

For me, that is simply a relieved expectation that a) this president understands that change is a process in which other actors and interlocutors need to be heard from; b) his team seems able to take constructive criticism and adjust; and c) this president is not fazed by much.

The issues in the stimulus bill are real ones - the Goldilocks question of how to put together a counter-cyclical measure that will be neither too small nor too big requires some healthy to-and-fro (even if a lot of it is above my professional pay-grade). Leonhardt's column this morning is, as always, clarifying on this.

But I'm not worried yet that no bill will pass. Of course, Obama could get a partisan bill immediately if he wanted to. But he's letting the process take its (still-limited) time and work. Not a "Decider", remember. A presider.

I am not sure right now which is an accurate assessment. It certainly hasn't been pretty.

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