Posted by: Joe Eds | September 3, 2009

The Overlearner in Chief

Joe Klein has a new column up for Time magazine and points out some of Obama’s “rookie mistakes”, particularly his practice of zigging where other presidents have zagged, and calls for him to start behaving like a strong leader. The whole article is definitely worth a read.

He’s got some good news for Obama:

“…Obama should be heartened by the fact that most of his Republican adversaries oppose the bill for crass political rather than ideological reasons. They assume that if it passes, his investment of political capital will result in higher poll numbers — which means they assume the public will like the changes he is proposing.

And, I fearlessly predict, the public will. If insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, or drop people who get too sick, the public will love it. If health-care exchanges give individuals and small businesses the power to negotiate lower premiums from the insurance companies, people will love that too.”

…and some points of criticism too.

But even if most of the noise about Obama is nonsense, there is one area of concern that could affect the ultimate success of his presidency. It is his tendency to overlearn the lessons of past presidencies, especially when those lessons enable him to avoid taking responsibility for tough decisions. It has been widely observed that Obama overlearned the lesson of the Clinton health-care effort by deferring to Congress to write the legislation. It has been less widely observed that the President overlearned the lesson of Bush’s hyperpoliticized Justice Department by leaving to Attorney General Eric Holder the decision about whether to investigate the CIA for torture abuses.

I agree on both of these points, especially about the overlearning.



  1. […] Goldilocks Can’t Help Us With Health Care In the name of keeping things lively, I’ll take a whack at Joe (Edwards and Klein) for this post. […]

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