Writing in the National Journal Magazine, political analyst Charlie Cook opines that President Barack Obama had better start playing his own game, or his administration is going to get labeled incompetent.
Cook, who edits the respected "Cook Political Report," writes that, with such stains on the record as Sen. Tom Daschle’s withdrawal as Health and Human Services secretary nominee, embarrassing disclosures about Treasury nominee Timothy Geithner’s taxes, and a stimulus package that has run up against a wall of criticism, President Obama may be setting himself up for the shortest honeymoon in presidential history.
But as Cook figures it: “If Obama plays his own game, he can win. But if he plays someone else’s, he loses.”
“At this point, the Obama administration must have close to a zero-tolerance policy for more problems of this kind. Further incidents would begin to erode confidence in the new president,” concludes Cook.
Obama’s victory in November – winning 53 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes – showed a breadth of support that suggested a transcendent appeal.
But the great hope that a master of change had arrived in Washington was quickly dissipated as the House-passed stimulus package “suggested an effort exclusively of, by, and for Democrats, and it played to some of the worst stereotypes of the Democratic Party and of politics as usual on Capitol Hill,” writes Cook. “It implied that Obama had become a captive of, rather than the victor over, old-style politics.”
The House stimulus debacle belied Obama’s determination to build a large and durable coalition - not to merely win with a very narrow majority, Cook says.
“History shows that the biggest and most meaningful public policy changes of the last century were achieved through bipartisan efforts, not by one party muscling its agenda through,” he writes.
Bottom line, according to Cook: The Obama White House must begin sending in the plays, or it risks having Hill quarterbacks call their own in ways that run counter to the president’s game plan and have much less likelihood of success.
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