March 8, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Obama's rhetorical dilemma

How is a president who campaigned on a theme of sky-high hopes supposed to govern when the country's economic prospects are bleaker than they have been since the Great Depression? Today's Washington Post detailed what an awkward and painful situation it is for the President, as the unemployment rate has risen to 8.1 percent. The measures to track down and eliminate wasteful government spending are a nice gesture, but woefully inadequate to resolve the budget crisis in any meaningful way. It reminds me of President Jimmy Carter's earnest but doomed administrative reform initiatives during his first year in office. What Obama really needs to do to lift economic hopes is take some concrete action that shows he respects private investors as something other than targets for wealth redistribution.

In times like these, sometimes a little gallows humor is what's called for, to show the suffering masses that he really does understand how desperate they are. In that sense, Obama could borrow a phrase from FDR and adapt it to the times:

The only thing we have to hope for ... is hope itself!

Jeff Frederick update

At Bearing Drift, Jim Hoeft posted his first video blog on the subject of Jeff Frederick being pressured into resigning. (See Friday.) It's a fair analysis, but I didn't agree with some of the lessons he drew for the Republican Party as a whole, so I commented:

I don't think the problem is with the GOP "message" and whether our leaders stick to "core principles" (itself a bone of contention these days), but rather, the lack of elementary political competence. Too many of our candidates have a campaign style aimed at the GOP "Base," often offending less-partisan voters in the process. Because of the excessive emphasis on ideology and principles, meanwhile, the very ideas of building a winning coalition or tackling real-world problems are viewed with suspicion these days. Frederick exemplifies both of those pathologies, and the party's current approach to elections and legislating is just plain dumb.