As the clock ticks down to zero hour for the Congressional Super Committee, President Obama is on a nine day relationship-building junket to Asia. Leaving town when Congress is struggling with issues crucial to the American economy has become Obama’s stock in trade. Prior to the Asia tour, he spent weeks on the campaign trail, ducking the difficult job of developing a meaningful resolution of the debt crisis. He did, however, use his electioneering to sharpen his divisive rhetoric, which accomplished nothing except to widen the partisan divide.
Oh, and one other thing. It clarified Obama’s re-election strategy. Like the sun rising in the east, he will, of course, continue to lob blame bombs in all directions. But, he’s also putting geographic distance between himself and Washington D.C. He places a lot of faith in the out of sight, out of mind maxim, hoping physical separation will dissociate him from the mess he’s helped create.
Obama’s re-election game plan should not come as a huge surprise, since it has a lot in common with his governance style. For the latter, he offers meaningless straw man proposals for chronic problems that can neither work nor be accepted. And when they aren’t, he casts aspersions on whomever for rejecting them.
The latest two examples are his “millionaires and billionaires” debt solution and his jobs plan. Both are non-starters because there’s a lot more harm than the little good in them and so cannot responsibly be put in place. But, they’re great sound bites for those desperate for easy solutions to devastating dilemmas. Obama hopes enough of those folks are out there to keep him in the White House.
To be sure, Obama’s strategy, whether governance or re-election, is much easier than long hours at the negotiating table facing huge helpings of bitter choices. And at least part of that strategy is getting support from unexpected places. Democrat Congressman Heath Shuler, N.C., agrees that Obama should stay out of town.
Shuler is the co-leader of a bipartisan group of 100 representatives urging the Super Committee to cut the debt by $4 trillion. He doesn’t think a divisive president can help that effort. Obama has made himself such a lightning rod for political rancor that the resolution process stands a better chance of succeeding without him. That’s a pathetic commentary on the so-called leader of our country, especially from someone who sits on the same side of the political aisle.
Shuler’s bipartisan effort, co-led by Republican Rep. Mike Simpson (ID), is one ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak outlook. Unlike the rest of their colleagues, they and the other 98 representatives in their group, want all options on the debt reduction table. Without both revenue increases and spending cuts, there’s no chance for a sustainable debt reduction.
The question is whether anyone in D.C is listening to them. Some in Congress are already revving up the blame machine, as the Super Committee remains deadlocked. The prospect of failure looms so large that, today, the smart money in town is squarely on fiasco. Two years ago, Obama was labeled the “Great Mediator”. Where is that guy now? Oh, yeah, he’s out of town. When asked, given the perilous economic times at home, whether the president would cut short his Asian trip, White House officials said no. They fear that a foreshortened trip would be a slap in the face to Asian allies. But, it seems a small risk in order to prevent people from growing old on our unemployment line.
What this country needs, even more than debt reduction, is an actual leader. We just can’t seem to elect one.
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