Dunsmore: No More Mr. Nice Guy

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In recent days, President Barack Obama has been taking almost as much
heat from members of his own party, as from the Republicans. This
morning commentator and veteran ABC News diplomatic correspondent
looks at the significance of this trend.

political life, President Obama had tended to be lucky – and in
politics as in professional sports, it’s often better to be lucky
than be good. But in the past week, the president’s luck has turned
decidedly sour. Last Friday , for the very first time in history,
America’s triple A credit rating was downgraded by one of the
business world’s top three ratings agencies.

The next day
in Afghanistan, thirty American combat troops, including 22 elite
Navy Seals, were killed when their Chinook helicopter was downed by
Taliban insurgents.

Then on Monday , after already dropping
significantly in recent days, the stock market plummeted more than
six hundred points. That was the worst single day loss since the
Crash of 2008. The rest of the world followed and markets remain
highly volatile.

His supporters argue that Obama was
powerless to prevent any one of these dispiriting events. But that’s
not the point. They happened on his watch and while he may not be
directly to blame for any of them, he will be judged on how he has

His initial response gets a low grade. Even as the
market was in free-fall Monday , the president made a televised
statement designed to calm investor fears. It had no discernible

I have to say that this was one of the least
impressive speeches the president has made since his election. The
content was prosaic – with lines such as, "we’ve always been and
always will be a triple A country." There were no new ideas to help
job growth and his delivery was flat and uninspiring. Even his
concluding remarks paying tribute to the Navy Seals and the others
killed on Saturday were not particular uplifting.

Yet for
many of his critics among his supporters, the problem is not with
what President Obama says – but what he does.

Democrats are highly critical of his performance. They say that the
reason the Tea Party minority in Congress now seems to be running the
country, is that the president has been much too passive. They fault
him for seemingly accepting the Tea Party’s mantra that America’s
fundamental problem is government debt. As it happens, in polls this
week, a substantial majority of Americans say unemployment not debt,
should be the nation’s number one concern.

Evidently Obama
is not by nature confrontational and believes in the politics of
compromise. Those are laudable traits. But the Tea Party is
apparently burdened by no such principles. In the vernacular of the
day, it takes no prisoners. This has left the American government in
paralysis, and Obama’s own re-election in serious question.

simply, the president needs a serious plan to get Americans back to
work. And more than that, he needs to relentlessly, aggressively, and
if need be angrily, fight to get it passed. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No
more Mr. Cool.


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