Neocon chronicler Jacob Heilbrunn, who like many realist foreign policy mavens supported President Obama’s candidacy, is unsure of what President Obama actually wants to achieve at this point. What are his priorities? What is he really gambling assets to achieve?
Read the entire piece (which admittedly does quote a line of mine).
What does Barack Obama want? That is the central question of his presidency that he has not answered. And he didn’t answer it last night, either, in his first official State of the Union address. Sometimes presidents have their mission forced on them, which is what happened to George W. Bush, who was floundering before September 11. Other times, as in the case of Ronald Reagan, who had the twin goals of reviving the free enterprise system and defeating communism, they’ve been preparing for it their entire life. Obama came into office championing what he was not: not George W. Bush, not Dick Cheney. He was hope personified. He would unite the warring factions inside the Beltway.
Last night he spoke before a Congress that is more divided than ever and held out the fig-leaf of monthly meetings with Democratic and Republican leaders.
Fine. But it still doesn’t really answer the question of what his program is for the next year. Consider health care. Obama said, “Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let’s get it done. Let’s get it done.”
But Obama never explained what plan he endorses or how he envisions the House and Senate working together to achieve that goal. It’s incredible that Congress devoted an entire year to health care, which, by the way, forms a big–too big–chunk of the economy, and may well come up with nothing. Unlike Reagan, who barnstormed the country pushing for his economic program of tax cuts, Obama himself has been largely missing in action on health care. When he doesn’t say what he wants, then the public begins to wonder if he knows it himself, and finds him wanting as president.
The rest. . .
— Steve Clemons