Despite mounting evidence of the federal government’s abuse of power, Politico’s analysts have decided that the cure for Obama’s second-term “doldrums” are that he must use “fear” to exert his will on Washington.
“Obama does not instill fear–one of the customary instruments of presidential power,” write John F. Harris, Jake Sherman, and Elizabeth Titus. The president should make clear “that people have good reason to be afraid of him,” they quote another analyst as saying. They add that Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) believes Obama should be “more forceful,” and seem to lament, along with one Democratic strategist, that “there’s not a single member of either party who fears paying a political price” for disagreeing with Obama.
Though they acknowledge a few realities–such as that Obama “is not buoyed by the power of ideas” and that he has few political skills other than making speeches–the authors mistake incompetence for cowardice. In fact, on issue after issue–from the stimulus to Obamacare to the debt ceiling–Obama has done little except try to strong-arm his opponents. Lately he has resorted to using his Organizing for Action campaigns to do just that, pressuring members of the opposition–even those inclined to cross the aisle on common issues.
The idea that Obama might simply not have the skills, experience or interest to govern the nation seems not to have occurred to Politico’s writers. The possibility that he might be responsible for his own fate–instead of the hapless victim of external circumstances–likewise is one they are barely prepared to consider.
So they give him the same bad advice partisan Democrats have been giving him since 2009: make everyone afraid. Consolidate power. Punish your enemies.
Unfortunately, Obama seems to be listening.