Yes, it is Congress's job to legislate. Obama was right not to draft a law and then present it to Congress saying, pass this. But there was a middle way between a Hillary-like fait accompli and failing to exercise meaningful guidance and supervision. The public's low opinion of Congress made it essential for Obama to act as a chief sponsor of the legislation. It was not enough for him to say, just give me something to sign. Voters wanted more from him than that.
Well, as I said, the September speech was about as good as it gets. But I also think Clive missed Obama's mojo. He has strategy.
He did not want to be tied to a bill's specifics so as to be the target of attacks when they did not make it through the process. He is trying to restore constitutional balance after the presidential protectorate of Bush-Cheney and parliamentary thuggishness of Tom DeLay. With a super-majority in the Senate and a big majority in the House, this made a lot of sense. He also had a huge amount on his plate - as I'm sure Clive appreciates.
His apparent lassitude was criticized in exactly the same way throughout the campaign. But he knows when to make the close. He's doing it now in defense of a bill he has made the final touches to. But wait till the fall when he will campaign on this change with the ferocity and passion of 2008. If this still falls apart, of course, I'll revisit Clive's critique, just as I would have revised my admiration of his campaign if Clinton had finally pulled it off. But she didn't, did she? And in the last month, support for fundamental reform has begun to grow and grow.
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