Friday, January 08, 2010

Broder's "Distraction" Canard


A consistent theme of many critics of President Obama is that he's focusing on too many priorities, instead of the one that's near and dear to the critic's heart. I guess it's no surprise that David Broder is among them. As if President Obama could wake up one morning and decide that such trivialities as the economy were off of his agenda, and instead he was going to focus all of the nation's energies on whatever it is Broder or some other critic cares about that day.
Obama, on the other hand, came into Christmas Day with an overloaded set of self-imposed tasks.
You see? Everything Obama does that's not on Broder's wish list is a "self-imposed" task. Dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Self-imposed. Interational efforts, such as "renegotiating our relations with other powers in the world and attempting to enlist their help in confronting outlaw regimes in Iran and North Korea"? Self-imposed. Rescuing a "wounded economy"? Self-imposed. Trying to come up with regulations that would prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis? Self-imposed. Seriously.

But Broder believes that the "Christmas plot" has "shaken Obama like nothing else that happened in his first year", and might change his leadership style - that is, put his attention back on things Broder cares about. You might assume, in this context, that Broder wants the President to focus his attention on the terrorist groups that are inclined to attack us, or on the nations that still host their cells. But no.
Many have been looking for a similar shift of tone in his dealings with the dictators in Iran and North Korea and even in his tolerance for the politics-as-usual maneuverings of many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.
Broder identifies two of his own priorities. First he wants the Obama Administration to prioritize a more militant approach to nations that had nothing to do with the attempted terrorist attack. Basically, to repeat the mistake of the Bush Administration in taking its eye off the ball in Afghanistan in order to advance a war of choice in Iraq. Distractions, indeed.

The second complaint is almost a self-caricature. It gets back to Broder's consistent call for "bipartisanship", which in his mind always seems to translate into the Democrats making concessions in order to mollify unbending Republicans. How in the world does he expect President Obama to end the "politics-as-usual maneuverings of many Republicans" (shouldn't that read "all Republicans" - with no offense intended to those who pretended to play ball on healthcare reform before scurrying back to their party to vote "no")? I must have missed something... when was Obama appointed leader of the Republican Party? When did the Republican Party give up its objective - an objective that has been admitted by many of its leaders - to harm Obama through consistent obstruction of the legislative process?

So once again David Broder confuses the interest of the nation with his own whims and wishes, once again he makes a call for "bipartisanship" that is meaningless in the present political culture, and sure enough, he's oblivious to the fact that the pursuit of his own agenda would distract the Obama Administration not only from whatever we're now calling "the war on terror", but would be an incredible waste of the President's time and energy.

Meanwhile, why is it so hard for people like Broder to understand that a President is capable of tackling multiple issues, and has a large staff and cabinet to which many of the issues are largely delegated? Or is it actually that they would rather try to convince other people that a President can only tackle one issue at a time, even though they know better, to try to scuttle any initiatives not on their own agendas?

1 comment:

  1. Although Obama inherited some really serious problems, I can't imagine the mindset under which he (or any other President) isn't capable of handling six or eight major issues -- along with a bunch of minor ones -- over the course of a full year. I agree that this is usually an indication that the speaker opposes a good chunk of the President's agenda, or is angry that his own pet issue isn't getting much attention.

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