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President Obama, MIA

Obama "Where's President Obama?" asked Paul Krugman in his Sunday New York Times column. "What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?"

Krugman acknowledges that with the Republicans controlling the House, Obama’s hands are tied. But, says Krugman, Obama can still reinforce his agenda by voicing it. He doesn’t have to be so quick to compromise; and in doing so, he's just setting himself up to be a pushover. "Among other things," Krugman laments, "the latest budget deal more than wipes out any positive economic effects of the big prize Mr. Obama supposedly won from last December’s deal, a temporary extension of his 2009 tax cuts for working Americans." He continues:

What’s going on here? Despite the ferocious opposition he has faced since the day he took office, Mr. Obama is clearly still clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences. And his political strategists seem to believe that he can win re-election by positioning himself as being conciliatory and reasonable, by always being willing to compromise.

But if you ask me, I’d say that the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing.

This reaction comes not just on the heels of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal -- much-praised for taking a more aggressive approach than Obama’s  plan — and near government shutdown; it also comes less than one week after Obama announced his reelection bid. Isn’t this a time he’d want to be seen in action?

Columnist Jonah Goldberg also commented on our missing president in last week’s Opinion pages:

If it weren't for [the need to raise money for his reelection campaign], Obama would be delighted to stay on the sidelines because his whole reelection strategy requires going on semi-hiatus from the presidency. That's why he's been AWOL on the budget battles. It's why he's completely ignored his own deficit commission, and it's why he's been saying as little as possible on foreign policy. It's also why, last week, he accepted an award for government "transparency" in secret.

The White House has learned the hard way that it overexposed its biggest asset during his first two years in office, using him for countless supposedly "game-changing" speeches that changed little or nothing. He gave the most press interviews in presidential history, according to CBS' Mark Knoller. In 2009, he had 411 public speeches, comments and remarks, and 491 in 2010. But in 2011, we have what Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus calls a "Where's Waldo presidency" where "you frequently have to squint to find the White House amid the larger landscape."

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-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Isn’t this a time when President Obama would want to be seen in action? Credit: Evan Vucci / Associated Press

 

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Dan Jeffs

President Obama MIA is intentional move.

While President Obama, Senator Reid and House Speaker Boehner pat themselves on the back for avoiding a government shutdown by making a deal on $38.5 billion in budget cuts, they lose sight of the real deal. $38.5 billion is political chump change, and the people lose.

Why? There is a $14.3 trillion public debt gorilla in the people's room fed by political ideology and the malfeasance of personal power.

Indeed, according to U.S. Treasury and budget office reports, the federal debt will reach $19.6 trillion by 2015. The interest on the debt this year will be over $530 billion, and the federal deficit will be over $1.6 trillion.

Contrary to popular political belief, the people are not stupid. We are more informed than ever. Government growth means loss of freedoms. We recognize the abuse of power, fraud and deceit -- and we are not going to take it anymore.

If our elected representatives and officials don't get their act together and work out something like the "Path to Prosperity" budget plan put forth by House Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan, the changes made in Congress in 2010 will be expanded by voters in 2012 and beyond until Washington gets it right.


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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