For better or worse, the President campaigned on some really great platforms the basis of which was “Change we can believe in.” But what he didn’t do was change along with the situation. He forgot that change involves being fluid, changing course when necessary.
The biggest problem that Obama is facing: Despite the woes in the economy, he still tried to deliver campaign promises from more than a year ago. This made his administration appear deaf to the problems of the American people. Sure, when you’re out of work, you worry about healthcare but you worry more about feeding your family and losing your home. It’s understandable. It’s hard to get the public to concentrate on American Idol AND John & Kate Plus Eight at the same time much less Healthcare Reform and Economic Stimulus and Banking Reform and Guantanamo and TARP when all they want are jobs.
Thus you get the Tea Party. A populist group with one agenda: Me First. I’m in no way a Tea Party supporter but I identify with their angst. I wanted change in Washington D.C. just as much as the next guy but Obama was supposed to also be able to shift gears faster and with more grace than our former commander in chief whose increasingly comic refrain was “stay the course” even when the course we were staying was leading us off a cliff.
I voted for a man who was intelligent, insightful, and darn it, well spoken. Okay I went for the guy who wooed me with poetry after eight years of “duh?” But I also thought I was getting someone whose lack of wisdom and experience was made up for in resilience and intuition. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe I expected too much. But, I also suspect that’s not true.
Memo to Obama: It’s no sin to put aside your promises to the American people and wholly concentrate on the task at hand, the elephant in the room. Don’t ignore the fact that people want action from you. You don’t have to back up every single campaign promise. We know it was not just rhetoric. We know doing things in Washington D.C. is hard and takes toughness and finesse. Just please show that you’re listening.
Make your presidency marked by a new strategy. When the situation calls for it, “Stray the course.”