Sunday, February 8, 2009

Barack Obama's Big Test

Whether or not he can successfully meet his own aims over the stimulus package will set the tone on Bararck Obama's presidency.  At least for the first few years of it.  The late night and Saturday negotiations between the President and the Senate will certainly test Obama's negotiating abilities and will have ramifications for his overall ability to lead.  He was perhaps correct when he said something about Republicans having lost the last election and therefore they should follow the Democrats, but the Republicans can't simply be expected to say "okay, you won we give up".  

I do wonder though about some aspects of this stimulus package.  Firstly, I think the $40 billion in aid to the states was too good to let go as they did.  I suppose though that the Democrat perspective would  be that if they didn't budge on that, they'd risk losing the package and that would be worse.  Though, why are they offering $650 million to help people to receive digital television signals through their old TV sets and a billion on fixing the 2010 census?  I know those sums aren't huge, but these little things add up and if they are in a stimulus package, they should stimulate, right?  How does the 2010 census, or digital cable signals in old television sets stimulate?  In fact, wouldn't it be better for the economy to encourage people to buy new TV sets rather than allow them to use their old one's?  I don't know, but that money would be better off going to states to allow them to meet their massive need.  

I don't think very many presidents have walked into such a mess and have had to take care of it so quickly after coming into office.  The economy could very well destroy Obama's Presidency, but a faster than expected recovery could also give him a great deal of credibility and influence that a President doesn't necessarily enjoy.  

He could end up completely isolating his base without winning support from others by extending so many olive branches, but he could also win draw in a great deal of support with those olive branches and extend his base.  I think he's either going to be regarded as a total flop or one of the greatest leaders in recent history.  I'm not sure if he'll have much room for squeezing somewhere into the mediocre range.  

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