COMMENTARY | According to Reuters , the fiscal cliff battle and ongoing financial issues are threatening to take time and attention away from President Barack Obama’s second term priorities, including immigration reform and gun control. While it is a shame that he isn’t able to focus on things that he — and the voters who elected him — have deemed worthwhile, I think he can partly blame himself for the obstacles.
The country is out of control financially and has been for quite some time. Obama knows this and Congress knows this. The public knows this. Until plans are put in place to straighten out the nation’s debt crisis, the subject will keep coming up and keep sucking the air out of the room and the energy out of agendas. The steadfast refusal of the Republicans and the Democrats to concede, compromise and work together toward solutions without it being the 11th hour and without a do-or-die deadline looming is to blame. The refusal to completely address and deal with the whole issue while there is time, rather than blustering and chest beating until the clock strikes 11 once again is to blame. Congress is to blame with their games, and yes, Obama is to blame as well.
Instead of trying to score points with his base and make the Republicans look bad, Obama should say: Here is the bottom line of where I am willing to go. This is the absolute most I, or the Democratic leadership, can concede. The offer/counter-offer method of bargaining works on Friday afternoons at the car dealership because there are clear guidelines that one side can only go so far and because there is no audience before which either participant of the deal can practice their acting skills complete with tantrums and quotable quotes.
Obama has not, in his first term, exercised the leadership skills to keep the bargaining as a productive tool. Instead, he has chosen to participate in the political marksmanship right along with the elected members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. So when I read about how he’s going to have trouble getting some of his priorities accomplished during his second term due to the inability of Congress to get the fiscal woes of the country sorted out — or to even begin sorting them out — I don’t feel too much sympathy for him. Be a leader, Obama. Insist that those in your party be leaders. Even if it means swallowing some of your clever retorts and accepting some conditions you don’t like earlier in the process than at the last minute.