Last night I saw our President in trouble. After nearly four years in office and the daily grind of listening to advisors, reading position papers and newspapers and meeting countless people, from those who are infatuated with the President and the Presidency to those who have come to hear words of solace about the death of their son in Afghanistan, it was time for Mr. Obama to fess up and say things are bad and then present a clear and compelling rationale for how he is going to fix it. He didn't do that. He stood there on stage, looked down, mouthed answers and took a whooping.
Mr. Romney was ready, Mr. Romney was eager and Mr. Romney prosecuted the last four years and took away the President's ability to take responsibility not only for what has gone wrong, but for all that is going right. The question that Jim Lehrer asked late was the one I thought to be most important:
"Many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now are in a state of paralysis as a result of partisan gridlock. If elected, in your case, if re-elected, in your case, what would you do about that?" http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/81994_Page10.html#ixzz28KYRTfH6
Romney got to answer first and went right to how he overcame partisan politics as the Governor of Massachusetts while having a legislature that was 87% Democratic.
President Obama won the election in 2008 on a platform of Hope and Change by offering to end the partisan gridlock in Washington that he has not only not been able to end, but has made demonstrably worse. After making a joke the President went on to say; " I will take ideas from anybody." You can read the whole exchange in the transcript provided above. But people have seen how ugly politics has become and many have lost faith. The President, as smart as he is has not proven to be good at schmoozing with Republicans and conducting all the old fashioned horse trading necessary to make Capitol Hill work in 2012.
Obamacare is not about finding a way to federalize U.S. Health Care and give the responsibility for granny's care and its termination to a board of anonymous medical advisors. It was enacted to fill the void and ensure that the government responds to the urgent need to cover over 40 million Americans that cannot afford care, do not get it in our current system and wait until they are sick enough to wind up in an Emergency Room and draw many times the cost of preventative care and a forward loaded system that is necessary in our country to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Obamacare is the first National Health Program enacted in the United States and the first step in the long term requirement of the federal government to engineer a process that covers those in need while retaining the private insurance industry and beginning to do it while dealing with the overwhelming issue of cost containment.
The reason must be crystal clear. We owe our best efforts to all Americans and particularly those who are too sick or have a child or member of the family that doesn't qualify for Medicaid and can't afford private insurance. We are a good people.
It is up to our President to do something he doesn't like; call Republicans and Democrats together and get his hands dirty making sausage. To gain the opportunity to get the blessing of a majority of Americans to be re-elected President, he must stand up and accept blame for a lot that has gone wrong and then draw people together around his plan to fix the economy and defend the United States from terror at home and abroad. The problems are enormous and the process requires more than a single political cycle. But it also requires the President to level with the American people, to take responsibility, to learn and apply the lessons of his first term and to become a better politician in his second. He will not win by playing out the clock or throwing enough mud to cover Mr. Romney. He must pivot and become a man not only chastened by the challenges, but able to demonstrate that he is capable and ready to deal effectively with the myriad of complex issues plaguing our economy and conspiring against the security of our nation.