SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 19, 2013

Column: Obama's next year or so will define his presidency

Much of what Barack Obama has cooking seems to come out half-baked. Maybe it is because as a political chef he seems unwilling to make certain of the ingredients and refuses to stay home to watch the oven.

Well, maybe I’ve been watching too many of those ubiquitous short-order shows on television, but I think you get my drift. The problem is obviously a lack of attentiveness to detail and a penchant for constant campaigning. He seems more comfortable in crowds than with those one-on-one or so confrontations that are mostly necessary to good governance.

The “bully pulpit” can carry one only so far — then down and dirty, head knocking, nose-to-nose face-offs and trades are the only solution. It’s hard work, and one has to be willing to mix compromise with threat to get where he wants to go in the partisan war zone this town increasingly has become. As he’s a former community organizer, one would have thought Obama would have developed some of the skills necessary for just such a fight. He obviously hasn’t.

Big ideas are great, but without a sense of practicality, they remain ideas. It’s important to know what is achievable and what isn’t. There is no “I’ll take what I can get” with this president. The result so far has been a domestic wasteland. Issues like immigration, transportation, education or any of a half-dozen other major problems have been displaced by constant warfare over the Affordable Care Act. Problems mount daily, and now the specter of fraud is looming over the giant program even in its start-up phase, as bunko artists reportedly try to take advantage of the confusion to sign up applicants with phony policies and identity theft.

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