Wed 3 Nov 2010
On March 3, 2009, I penned a weblog piece entitled A Liberal Ronald Reagan? In the piece I made the following observation:
Having last week finally seen the complete unveiling of Barack Obama–no, not a centrist but a true blue Democratic liberal–it is interesting to speculate on how the American public is ultimately going to judge its new leader. The 2010 mid-term elections will give us a first indication.
Well, we’ve received our first indication of the American public’s judgement on our new leader and it is not good. Anyone who says this isn’t reflection of the country’s views on President Obama’s first two years in office is smoking something.
Yet all is not lost. This election may have been a blessing in disguise as it now puts President Obama in a position much more similar to that faced by the very popular Ronald Reagan. As I point out in my piece, this will improve Obama’s chances of long-term success considerably. Reagan was aided by not being able to be as conservative as he might otherwise have been and Obama will likewise be aided by his inability to follow a course more liberal that the country desires.
Make no mistake that I want President Obama to succeed. The country needs him to succeed. But he must slow the implementation of “the agenda”. He took a massive gamble (see Obama the Gambler) and lost. He must go back and focus on the economy and get that right and put utopian liberal dreams on hold, maybe forever.
Having re-read A Liberal Ronald Reagan? this morning I also became aware that I was mistaken about Obama’s skills as a communicator. I had thought based on his performance in the election campaign that, as a communicator, he was almost an ideologically liberal clone of Ronald Reagan. Yet it is now apparent Obama does not possess all of the communication skills of the “the great communicator”. The one thing I’ve most noticed of late is that Obama doesn’t have that spark of personality that so endeared Reagan to America. Obama projects dreadful seriousness all of the time. He is tough not to respect but he is hard to really like. I think he can work on that. We need to see the likable side of the President more.
Let me close with the same words that closed my original piece two years ago. They are, if anything, even more relevant.
The bottom line is that this story has yet to unfold. It could go in many ways. It will interestingto watch. It will also be scary, as the country has so much at stake. Had this been normal times, with an economy that was anywhere withing the range of normal, this liberal experiment that Obama’s proposing might have been an interesting and valuable exercise for the country. In times of economic crisis, it seems rash and dangerous. Let’s hope for the best case scenario, for failure could be unthinkably bad. Let’s hope that Barack Obama does, indeed, turn out to be a liberal Ronald Reagan.