Walter Rhett

Feedback About An Uneven Performance

In National Affairs on September 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm


One of the problems with deciphering Barack Obama and his administration’s behavior is that any model or insight runs into cross currents generated by Republicans and those who seem to be naturally cynic.
It is obvious from the appearances and messages of the Administration that it is hesitant, indifferent or slow to act, willing to counter punch and compromise – which the cynics take as proof of his unpreparedness, over-his-headness, a failed presidency that wants to or will destroy the country and middle class life as we know it.

I think that the leap to conclusions says more about the cynics and the moans. But we are left with the telling comment of one woman in the MSNBC televised town meeting who eloquently said to the President: “Quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle for change I voted for.” Her words resonated. Donna Brazile sent her quote out by Twitter. CNN and other news shows highlighted the clip.

I think many of us – readers and commenters – have honestly missed the mark of the Obama/Chicago/New Cabinet mindset in which the pol David Axelrod is now a power but has a zone of comfort think more to do with not losing rather than winning. Carefully review the election strategy; it was about the slow accumulation of delegates, not a bold stride toward victory. What is so bewildering – and so amazing – it that Obama is a president to whom people can honestly articulate their deep felt feelings and experiences, and share ideas. Yesterday’s MSNBC town hall was absolutely unprecedented in its degree of honest, unfiltered feedback from supporters and others, and Obama’s willingness to really hear what was being said.

The break down I think comes in the machinery. In spin meisters who have been loyal to no one or principle (Axelrod and the others would protest!) and who in governing have deeply mischarted the positions needed to orient the administration.

One-on-one, I see a different Obama. When the team assembles, errors in political calculation and judgment seem to swiftly add up. Maybe it’s time to change the team. Even without knowing why, and beyond the cynic’s cliches, in candor, we can confirm some sorry, disturbing trends.


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