This is Leadership?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 10, 2010


I understand politics, and I understand why it is that an Administration of one party might have an interest in attacking a predecessor Administration of another party. But this act is getting old:

President Barack Obama attacked the economic policies of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush in Bush’s home state on Monday as evidence of the way Republicans would operate if given power in Nov. 2 U.S. congressional elections.

At a fund-raising event for Democrats in Dallas, where Bush now lives, Obama said the former president’s “disastrous” policies had driven the U.S. economy into the ground and turned budget surpluses into deficits.

Obama defended his repeated references to Bush’s policies, saying they were necessary to remind Americans of the weak economy he inherited from Bush in January 2009.

“The policies that crashed the economy, that undercut the middle class, that mortgaged our future, do we really want to go back to that, or do we keep moving our country forward?” Obama said at another fund-raising event in Austin, referring to Bush’s eight years as president.

The President has been in office for over a year and a half. The passage of a stimulus package very soon after he came into office means that he owns the economy. At some point in time, it at least becomes close to impossible to continue attacking the Bush Administration for the state of the economy. For most of us, to the extent that an American President can even influence the economy, that point in time came a while ago. But I imagine that for the Administration, that moment will come when the economy will finally turn around. At that moment, of course, the President will find that George W. Bush’s policies no longer have any effect whatsoever on the state of the economy, and that anything and everything good about the economy can be directly attributable to the wisdom and benevolence of our current President, and his wise advisors.

Obviously, it doesn’t take much by way of brainpower to notice how self-serving this set-up is for the Obama Administration. I guess that helps explain why the President’s blame-Bush act is not impressing anyone, and why, going into the midterm elections, the President’s approval ratings are hovering in the low 40s, with Democrats looking set to lose at least one chamber of Congress to the Republicans. In the meantime, as the title of this blog post asks, if President Obama is so interested in talking about the economy, when will he take a leadership role regarding the issue, instead of merely focusing his attentions on how best to cast blame the Bush Administration’s way? The latter approach doesn’t create a single job, after all.

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