This is the original sin of the Obama Administration — the failure to make the economic recovery its one and only priority. Why couldn’t the administration have proposed that until unemployment had fallen for 12 straight months or until it had created 8 million new jobs, it would only propose initiatives that served the goal of job growth? Instead, the president immediately embarked on comprehensive health-care reform, the same reef that had battered and almost sunk Bill Clinton.Problem #1: The notion that government can only do one thing at a time, and it needs to steer away from anything difficult. There is no reason why a President cannot focus on two, three, four... even dozens of major issues. There are enough days in the week and year.
Problem #2: Magical thinking. What does Eskew imagine would have been changed by the President's saying, "Despite all of my promises during the campaign I'm going to drop healthcare reform until... whenever, maybe never... while I pull a John McCain and pretend that I have magic control over the economy." What more does Eskew imagine that Congress would have approved, above and beyond the stimulus bill that passed? By what magic trick would the Republicans have stopped obstructing job creation initiatives coming out of the White House, or demagoguing about how the President made the recovery his priority over all else and failed?
Problem #3: Leadership is actually a good thing. Whatever benefit Eskew sees in the notion of running away from the nation's hard, pressing problems, a philosophy of "Somebody tried to fix this twenty years ago and suffered political harm, so we should never again try" is outright craven.
Certainly the President underestimated his own party, and its willingness to be either efficient or put aside self-interest when it came to resisting lobbyists and crafting good policy. Certainly he underestimated Republican obstructionism, despite Mitch McConnell's statement that he would put Obama's defeat above all other priorities, making clear through his actions that his lower priorities included the welfare of the nation. But to put on your 20:20 hindsight goggles and complain, "I knew all along that the President should be a coward, but he stuck his neck out trying to accomplish something so don't go expecting me to criticize the guy swinging the axe"... just what sort of country, what sort of democracy do you want us to have?