Rove: Obama's Specialty Is 'Stump Speaker'

Thursday, 27 Oct 2011 10:22 AM

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President Barack Obama’s fundraising trips and barnstorming around the country on Air Force One to push his jobs bill showcase an “essential truth” about his presidency: He’s uncomfortable doing the job, former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove writes in an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal.

“His renewed enthusiasm shows that nothing rejuvenates this president more than leaving Oval Office duties behind to reprise his role as stump speaker,” Rove writes. “We're even seeing snappy new slogans: the latest is ‘We can't wait,’ a clever way to hide Mr. Obama's discomfort with the business of convincing Congress to pass his bills.

“This slogan unintentionally showcases an essential truth about the Obama presidency: comfortable on the political hustings, he's uncomfortable doing the job. Energetic at campaigning, he's lethargic at governing. From the start of his administration, he has left the policy details and heavy lifting to others.”

Rove notes that, while the president was pushing investments in the country’s roads, bridges, and airports, he has taken no action on a multi-year highway bill that lapsed shortly before Obama took office in 2009. The program has only kept going through a series of temporary extensions.

“There is a price for Mr. Obama's failure in 2009 to get it renewed for six years,” Rove wrote. “State officials would have had the confidence to commit to projects. Contractors would have the incentive to purchase more equipment and hire more people, providing more certainty for one important part of the economy.”

According to Rove, this “indifference to governing” prompted Obama to outsource key legislative initiatives such as the first stimulus and Obamacare, which resulted in “ineffective, unpopular and unworkable laws.”

“It's an odd, even jarring, combination: Mr. Obama embraces hyperkinetic government spending and a powerful and all-intruding federal state while having a hands-off attitude toward its workings,” Rove wrote, adding that this would be fine if Obama were to be the challenger in 2012.

“But Mr. Obama's problem is he's the incumbent,” Rove concluded. “To paraphrase what Joe Louis said of Billy Conn, he can run from his record but he can't hide from it. Mr. Obama is past the point of being judged mostly on words. This time around, he'll be judged mostly on competence. Americans expect more of their chief executive than a passion for the campaign stump.”

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