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Le Monde, France

President Obama Must Find His 'Bully Pulpit'


"In normal times, that wouldn't be too disturbing. But these aren’t normal times. The economy is in danger of deflationary strangulation. … These times require a president who must go beyond the partisan divide - a president who uses the 'bully pulpit.'"




Translated By Andrea Rouse


November 11, 2010


France - Le Monde - Original Article (French)

Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, served from 1901-1909, and applied the term 'bully pulpit' to the presidency.


BBC HARDTALK: Is it time to prepare for gridlock in the U.S. Congress?, Nov. 3, 00:05:19RealVideo

At the beginning of the last century, President Theodore Roosevelt said that the White House was a “bully pulpit” - a “great platform,” a tool of maximum resonance from which the U.S. chief executive can advocate, explain, and in short “sell” his policy - if he uses it well and sparingly.


This wasn't the case during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The 44th president of the United States has a distant, professorial way - some say arrogant - of exercising his mandate. This has undoubtedly contributed a lot to the defeat he suffered Tuesday, November 2nd, in the midterm elections.


The opposition Republicans won a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives and grew stronger in the Senate. It also won a majority of governorships. For Mr. Obama, the warning is clear.


It is a matter of style, it's been said. But when it comes right down to it, of course: Tuesday’s vote was an angry slap from Americans, a majority of whom face a dire economic situation. Unemployment is nearing 10 percent, growth is lackluster (2 percent), and morale has been rendered durably worse.


There is an unfair side to this punishment. In domestic policy, Mr. Obama’s balance sheet is quite respectable: he rescued the financial system, passed laws on health care and education reform, drafted the outline of climate legislation, and his plan to stimulate the economy may have proven inadequate, but without it, unemployment would have surpassed 12 percent.


It took compromise to pass these laws, and Mr. Obama disappointed the left. His ensemble has created an image of a government that is too intrusive, so Obama frightens the right. The result is disastrous. The United States finds itself with what is known as “divided government”: the White House on one side, part of Congress on the other.


It’s a common pattern in Washington. It wasn’t a source of deadlock when the two major parties were still able to find areas of agreement. But this is less and less the case, and it is feared that the “divided government” of 2010 will be a paralyzed one. That's bad news.


The fault lies mainly with some in the Republican Part, which has members who received narrow-minded and dogmatic training. As of Wednesday, the future House speaker, John Boehner, hasn’t hid that his agenda is to fight from day one: no compromise with the White house, and do everything possible to keep Mr. Obama in check.    





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In normal times, that wouldn't be too disturbing. But these aren’t normal times. The economy is in danger of deflationary strangulation. Witness the extraordinary and exceptionally dangerous measure that the Federal Reserve has just announced: an injection of $600 billion into the economy by printing more money.


These times require a president who must go beyond the partisan divide - a president who uses the “bully pulpit.”



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 11, 12:32am]


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