Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is That Lame Duck I Smell?

Within 24 hours Barack Obama will attempt to resuscitate "health care reform" with a special address to a joint session of Congress. We do not know whether he will flourish a pair of defibrillator paddles and shout "Clear," following the lead of countless TV docs, but it is clear that the Administration believes that "reform" is in jeopardy, and that the master's touch is needed to revive it. Much may ride on the president's performance - he has made "reform" a central part of his agenda.

As an aside, I use the term "reform" advisedly. "Reform" generally connotes a change for the better, not change simply for the sake of change. The plans I have seen offer a variety of changes, but no improvements, unless one lands a job with the new bureaucracy that would spring up like toadstools to administer the new system. But, as "reform" is the popular term for what is churning through the Congress, I will use the term, but under protest.

Mr. Obama's decision to take his case directly to the Congress is generally being portrayed as a typically bold gesture by an inspired leader. Who, the media asks, can resist the combination of his passion to serve man, his vast intellect and his unequaled eloquence?

I see a different meaning. Despite having the strongest hold on both houses of the Congress in recent memory, he still can't get his programs passed. He doesn't need a single Republican vote, but he still cannot get his programs passed. His decision to appeal publicly for "cooperation" from Congress demonstrates both his incompetence and his political weakness. Once he publicly admits to Congress that "I can't do it without you," the price of that cooperation may increase exponentially. Mr. Obama does not appear to grasp that fact of political life. Neither does is his stature enhanced by publicly demonstrating the limited influence he wields within his own party.

Mr. Obama's administration is young, and the future may bring it triumphs and return prosperity and security to the us. At the moment, however, it is safe to say that, on the domestic front, he is no LBJ. Indeed, he may have already rendered himself irrelevant.

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