Dunsmore: No More Mr. Nice Guy
08/12/11 7:55AM By Barrie Dunsmore
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In recent days, President Barack Obama has been taking almost as much
heat from members of his own party, as from the Republicans. This
morning commentator and veteran ABC News diplomatic correspondent
looks at the significance of this trend.
(DUNSMORE) In his political life, President Obama had tended to be lucky - and in politics as in professional sports, it's often better to be lucky than be good. But in the past week, the president's luck has turned decidedly sour. Last Friday , for the very first time in history, America's triple A credit rating was downgraded by one of the business world's top three ratings agencies.
The next day in Afghanistan, thirty American combat troops, including 22 elite Navy Seals, were killed when their Chinook helicopter was downed by Taliban insurgents.
Then on Monday , after already dropping significantly in recent days, the stock market plummeted more than six hundred points. That was the worst single day loss since the Crash of 2008. The rest of the world followed and markets remain highly volatile.
His supporters argue that Obama was powerless to prevent any one of these dispiriting events. But that's not the point. They happened on his watch and while he may not be directly to blame for any of them, he will be judged on how he has responded.
His initial response gets a low grade. Even as the market was in free-fall Monday , the president made a televised statement designed to calm investor fears. It had no discernible impact.
I have to say that this was one of the least impressive speeches the president has made since his election. The content was prosaic - with lines such as, "we've always been and always will be a triple A country." There were no new ideas to help job growth and his delivery was flat and uninspiring. Even his concluding remarks paying tribute to the Navy Seals and the others killed on Saturday were not particular uplifting.
Yet for many of his critics among his supporters, the problem is not with what President Obama says - but what he does.
Increasingly, Democrats are highly critical of his performance. They say that the reason the Tea Party minority in Congress now seems to be running the country, is that the president has been much too passive. They fault him for seemingly accepting the Tea Party's mantra that America's fundamental problem is government debt. As it happens, in polls this week, a substantial majority of Americans say unemployment not debt, should be the nation's number one concern.
Evidently Obama is not by nature confrontational and believes in the politics of compromise. Those are laudable traits. But the Tea Party is apparently burdened by no such principles. In the vernacular of the day, it takes no prisoners. This has left the American government in paralysis, and Obama's own re-election in serious question.
Quite simply, the president needs a serious plan to get Americans back to work. And more than that, he needs to relentlessly, aggressively, and if need be angrily, fight to get it passed. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more Mr. Cool.