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June 29th, 2009
02:39 PM ET

Questions about Obama’s leadership

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/25/obama.energy/art.obama.garden.gi.jpg]

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Across America and much of the world, opinion of Barack Obama as president continues at levels rarely seen in recent decades. Sure, there has been sniping from the right and a little slippage in the polls, but mainstream opinion – both in the polls and the press – has generally been lavish in praise.

That is why it has been jarring to read two of the most influential and mainstream newspapers in the world over the past few days, both of them harshly critical.

In editorials, columns and news stories on Saturday and again this morning, the Financial Times castigates the President for passive leadership. Among the headlines: “President Obama needs to lead”; “Obama is choosing to be weak”; “Cap-and-trade mess”; and “Punch-drunk Obama needs middle way on Tehran”. Meanwhile, the Economist spoke out in its new issue with a full-page column entitled, “The senator-in-chief: Barack Obama is too deferential to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill”.

The essence of their argument about his domestic leadership is that the President has assigned out to Congress primary responsibility for writing major legislative bills and then has stood by passively as the bills have been so watered down or become so flawed that they fall far short of what is needed.

While celebrating that the House has just passed the first bill in its history that would put mandatory caps on carbon dioxide, for example, Europeans and others overseas worry that the U.S. is once again moving too timidly on greenhouse gases. Once-in-a-lifetime chances for reform are being squandered, in their view. Even liberal columnist E.J. Dionne echoes some of these concerns today in the Washington Post. While he prefers Obama’s approach to the Clintons’ on health care, he argues that Obama should now intervene more assertively as Congress wrestles with the reforms.

What should we make of these criticisms and questions from sources who have typically been friendly toward this President and the U.S.?

Two defenses of President Obama seem in order:

First, we should recognize that the politics of change are extraordinarily hard so that some degree of compromise is essential to get major reforms passed these days. The energy-climate bill was supposed to pass the House with ease but in the event, won by only seven votes. And it would have gone down to defeat had not Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey made some concessions to “Brown Democrats” from coal-reliant states. As it is, the bill now faces a long, tough, uphill fight in the Senate.

Second, President Obama is bringing an unusual leadership style to the Oval Office – leaving much more latitude to Congress than his predecessors – but at least he is breaking through the paralysis that has gripped Washington in recent years. The stimulus package, health care for more children, the energy-climate bill, the prospect of some form of health reform – all of this might have been impossible without Obama. It is worth remembering that when the Clintons tried a much more ambitious reform of health care in the 1990s, the bill never even made it out of committee in a Democratic Congress.

So, let us give the credit to President Obama that he richly deserves.

Yet, these articles appearing in the international press deserve consideration, too. The truth is that as historic as the energy-climate bill is, it does not adequately address the rapidly escalating threat of global warming. Alarm bells are now going off among scientists studying climate change as they see signs it is escalating much more rapidly than expected.

If you want to read a scary piece about where we may be heading, check out the profile of scientist Jim Hansen in the current issue of The New Yorker. For more than a quarter century, Hansen has had an excellent track record in his predictions – and he is now so worried that he thinks the energy-climate bill that just passed the House is useless. Scrap it and start over, he urges. Those who know a lot about health care worry that in a parallel fashion, Congress may pass a reform bill so flawed that it will be illusory as well.

What all this suggests is that the White House has been right to press for reform but it is equally important to get the reform right. The country has not had a full, vigorous debate on these big reforms like climate and health care. That is partly because the press, for a variety of reasons, has not given them the attention they deserve. But it is also because the White House, trying to pursue so many issues simultaneously, has not been to focus on any one of them very long. And let’s face it: the President himself has not tried to fight the Congress on key questions. If anything, he and his team are eager not to draw lines in the sand.

It is too early to judge whether the President’s leadership style will ultimately prove to be a major breakthrough for the country or whether it will bring changes that disappoint. One continues to have great hope for the President. But it is not too early to have a more vigorous debate about where these reforms are taking us. And for that, we should also welcome this questioning from our friends.

soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. md101

    Where's the birth certificate? A certificate of Live Birth is NOT a birth certificate.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  2. Belle

    Don't get me wrong, I am for being environmentally conscious...but those light bulbs that are supposed to last 5 years? Has anyone ever READ the warning? They are filled with mercury. No wonder they have them made in China! However, break one in the house? You are supposed to get everyone out of the house, open all the windows and air out the house for 15-20 minutes, then wear gloves, use solvent to clean up after...and throw away your clothes.

    What is wrong with this environmentally-friendly picture?

    June 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  3. TheKeatingFive

    This hand wringing about Obama is nonsense. His list of legislative accomplishments are impressive by any measure all ready. He has successfully stabilized an economy in a free fall tail spin. He has done more in 6 months to undermine international terrorism and empower democracy in the Mid East than Bush did in 8 years with his extraordinary speech in Cairo. To criticize him for doing too much is absurd because there is a heck of a lot that must be done. After all, he not only inherited a mess, caused by the every nincompoops criticizing him now, but he is taking on tough issue after tough issue that has languished for decades even with a bunch of cry baby just say no republicans. That is called LEADERSHIP. Don't look now, but Al Franken will soon be given his rightful Senate seat and the Dem's will have 60 in the Senate and then we will see who has the leverage. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Remember when every one was bellyaching about Tim Geitner? Where are they now? Remember when everyone bellyached that Obama was too soft and too nice on Clinton and McCain in the campaign? Where are they now? I will put my money on Obama any day of the week and mark my words. When it is all said and done they will put this guy on Mt. Rushmore.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  4. Sam

    I think he's doing great when it comes to world affairs. Maybe it's time for some of our western allies to start picking up a little bit more of the slack. They complain about Iran, but don't realize that almost every great democracy was built on the blood of its own people. As far as domestic affairs go, I'm a little indifferent on some things but you know what?.....You can't make everybody happy. Another positive during Obama's term is the fact that Congress is finally talking (working) whether we like what's being passed or not, they are doing something. That's a start.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  5. Lev Kalyuzhny

    The only people who were the Presidents or worked together with presidents are qualifying to say about Obama's performance.
    All other have no idea what are they talking about.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  6. Belle

    Oh...let's talk about foreign oil.

    USGS survey: BAKKEN Foundation of South Dakota and Montana holds 3.6-4.3 Trillion Barrels of recoverable oil.

    Saudi Arabia sits on 250 Million. Recoverable oil means using Existing Technology...there are already a few oil rigs on site. No spending billions in research...already one of the largest oil supplies in the world. No need for oil shale technology...oh...and don't forget the other billion in Tenn.

    So isn't fair honest reporting supposed to be the entire story, and NOT just a president's talking points?

    June 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  7. JD

    Obama is nothing but the second coming of Jimmy Carter. And like Carter, he's completely ineffectual. The man has absolutely no capacity for leadership whatsoever.

    If it hadn't been for an extraordinarily unpopular Republican President (GWB), an absurd Republican nominee (McCain) and the press carrying water for Obama (as made plainly obvious by this apologist piece by Mr. Cooper), this guy would have never made it the first round in the nominee selection.

    Obama has never been anything more than an empty suit with a flair for eloquent oratory. Unfortunately, that ain't what it takes to lead a nation.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:14 pm |
  8. james

    After 8 years of having a very decisive, hardheaded, go-by-the-gut president who pretty much ran this country into the ground, I think we need to give the Obama style a chance.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  9. JLT

    Lisa: I think it is a great idea to reward people for maintaining their good health but what about senior citizens who may live solely on SS and who already have many health problems that it is too late to reverse? Your suggestions might work if you start with young people when they get their first insurance. However, you'd need to make an exception for people who have heriditary diseases, etc, that they can do nothing to prevent. They shouldn't be penalized.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  10. Curtis

    BO talked about change from day one. Change can be good and I am all for possitive change. However, BO's staff are nothing more than Washingtin retreads. Everyone of them held positions in the Clinton administration.

    He has no idea what economics, diplomacy, and liberty are all about. He should go back and study US history all over again.

    In his first hundred days he has managed to saddle our grandchildren and great grandchildren with more debt than can ever possibly be paid off in 100 lifetimes. He is rapidly turning the greatest country on this planet into another Socialist/Communist failure.

    Give him enough time and rope, he'll turn the United States into what Schwarzenegger has done to California.

    It's my hope and prayer he is only a one term president.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  11. John

    Genesis Slaughter you are part of the problem we have with race in this country if you seriously think that all criticism of Obama is based on his race. It is possible to disagree with Obama's policies and for it to have nothing to do with race whatsoever. Once the press realizes this we'll start to get some real reporting on what he's done and what he wants to do. Right now the press is scared of getting black leaders mad at them, combined with the fact that the majority of the mainstream press voted for Obama and the coverage is lacking.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  12. marat

    Obama IS weak...it is inconceivable to me that with North Korea drastically accelerating its nuclear arsenal, testing nuclear weapons and threatening to use military force if its ships are inspected, that Obama has been absolutely SILENT. Two of the biggest threats our world has faced are being virtually ignored. IRAN??? You have to be an IDIOT at this point to believe that SANCTIONS mean ANYTHING to Iran. But he mouths them. On top of this, energy prices are starting to climb, working for Iran's edge. WHERE IS JOHN BOLTON WHEN WE NEED HIM?? Bolton said: "talk for three months and then use military means if necessary." Obama is leading no one...even his economic razzle dazzle has not been panning out. I feel he is a DANGER to the U.S. and to the EU–he coddles up timidily to Iran and North Korea, and bludgeons Israel with "demands"–does he think he is Emperor?? Who is he to determine the security needs of Israel, which is under the threat of annihilation if Iran develops nuclear weapons?? Moreover, a nuclear Iran will see radiological devices passed on to its proxy terror groups. Iran is emboldened and getting even more aggressive now. I see Obama as vacuous, as opaque, with no strong fixed values at all that I can discern. He blows in the wind-and his only real talent is........rhetoric and "acting presidential." Its both laughable and frightening to me.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  13. Former Republican

    When will the Republican Do Nothing but criticize party get off Obama's back? For God's sake the man has not been in office for more than six months and everyone wants miracles. The Republican Party presidents in the past 12 years did nothing but spend money on wars, alienate us from the world, and preach NeoCon democracy.
    At least Obama has a brain, can spell and pronounce English words and has made clear that we as a nation don't think we have all the answers and that we want to work with the other nations of the world. He is highly regarded by anyone who realizes that nothing happens in a democracy or international affairs without compromise and without listening to the views of others. We do not need Senators like McCain who should know better that pushing Iran with his ideas will not solve anything, and will just add fuel to our opponents. I am pleased that Obama thinks and acts sensibly. Lets give the man some room to work and get off his back.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  14. Lou Lang

    So, who is surprised? During the runup to the election when the financial problems surfaced, who was it that continued campaigning, said 'call me if you need me'? It was clear then that Obama had no ideas and was going to rely on someone else to tell him how to vote.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Michael

    David Gergen may be mainstream, but the Fiancial Times and the Economist are both right of center. In light of the Administrations's Health Care proposal and the Environmental initiative, it is not surprising that these two organs of business have selected a different way to attack the President. Saying someone cannot lead is often a way to attempt to discredit someone who is actually leading well. I am surprised Gergen fell for this ruse.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  16. tom

    Who exactly is 'defending' the president. I know CNN is a liberal media outlet, but surely even you liberals with some common sense would agree our media is way to slanted in favor or against our governemnt. This will surely be big factor in the downfall of America. The media needs to be un-biased...period.

    And the criticisms are true and accurate; personally I'm glad obama is not pushing harder for his poor legislation; I do not feel its just, workable or a good for America.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  17. Belle

    Hi Anderson,
    As a Democrat, I am very dubious as is most of America about Obama's policies. Let's take the Energy Bill for example. I wonder why no journalist questions the fact the report from the EPA was suppressed. Why not one journalist was interested enough to read the "draft" copy that CEI released today. I am just an American.

    "By far the best single explanation for global temperature fluctuations is variations in the PDO/ENSO. ENSO appears to operate in a 3-5 yr cycle. PDO/AMO appear to operate in about a 60 yr cycle...pg iv."

    There are graphs that prove the Earth is now in a cooling trend. The height of global warming was 1998. It also states CO2 has very little impact because it shows (graphs) that the C02 levels have gone down!
    .66 in 1940-1979 to today's current C02 of -.14.

    So my challenge to you, as a journalist: WHO QUASHED THE REPORT? Which allowed the biggest tax hike in US history.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  18. Chad

    Only 3 1/2 more years, only 3 1/2 more years.....

    June 29, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  19. Jennifer

    To Genesis Slaughter: Why must every criticism of the President be met with "you're a racist"?
    To Melissa: You've never seen a more harshly treated President? You must have been in a cave for the previous 8 years. George w. Bush was called everything from "traitor" to "the devil", and it's only reinforced by your calling him "the Shrub".
    President Obama does defer to Congress too often, that's how you end up with almost 1300 add-ons to the stimulus package. He needs to step forward and take a stand, and not just on the easy things.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  20. Bernie

    The lefty newspapers are protecting the President. The honeymoon will be over in 8 years. Get used to it. We are concerned about his leadership and the climate bill while we continue to import millions of barrels of oil a day from countries who hate us and plot our demise. Where are our prioritites? We should establish a goal to reduce foreign oil imports by 75% in 10 years and figure out a way to meet that goal with a combination of off shore drilling, solar, and nuclear. If the president wants to show leadership, how about a Foreign Oil Independence day celebration 10 years from this July 4th?

    June 29, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  21. jdona

    The man was a senator for a scant 143 days, never did a single thing except pass a bill to preserve democracy in the Congo and name a post office in Illinois, and you wonder why he isn't taking the bull by the horns and leading this country to the same peace and prosperity of the 90's? Oh please! 56 million of us woke up before the election and tried in vain to save this country from the nightmare of an Obama administration, how much more do we need to see before the Kool Aid stupor wears off? Inept , inexperienced, and in over his head are much too kind in describing this administration. For the Kook Aid drinkers who voted this idiot in office, enjoy the total, abject misery you are about to experience courtesy of Barack Obama. You earned every bit of it and you deserve every bit of it. Unfortunately, the other 56 million of us have to suffer too thanks to your complete and total stupidity.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  22. dina levine

    Harsh Press???? This President doesn’t even belong where he is. He does not deserve it. What has he really done to prove that he knows anything about economics or anything else for that matter? He was a Community Leader, what did he balance? He’s lucky if Michelle lets him get near their checkbook. He was a Senator for a short time that voted “present” way too many times because he knew it would be on his record. He hung around with anti-American people and was elected by the media. And you say people are harsh to him? Give me a break.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  23. Jim

    Since the US Media isn't going to do their job. Perhaps US citizens can ask media outside the US why we just past Cap & Trade during a recession in the so-called energy bill.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  24. Mike

    I think the fact that two "business" publications voice concern is saying alot. The Global Economic poles are starting to shift and the "old Economic Guard" is lining up to take a serious hit in their wallets. The whole Tehran thing truly comes down to "business". (Sure some want freedom for the mass of Iranian dissidents, but when I see all those Iranian protestors, all I can see is designer sunglasses and signs in English?) The media really pushed the Iran thing harder than any news story I have read in ages, heck CNN developed a whole new section to their front page, just to forment public opinion into supporting some sort of "intervention". Well I'm one American who does not fear Iran, therefore I feel we need not intervene. Democracy begins at home.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  25. Jim in Fllorida

    Goodness, Gergen, you are bought and paid for by the Obamabots. Praise he richly deserves? For what?

    1. Spending us into a future economic collapse?
    2. Basically ending the War on Terror?
    3. Pushing for cap and trade that is going to kill the middle class in this country.
    4. Weakening our missile defense in the face of direct threats from North Korea?
    5. Getting the federal government into the banking, financial, auto business?
    6. Refusing to lead and take a stand for the protesters in Iraq however quickly critical of the overthrow of a dictator in Honduras (puts Obama and Chavez in the same camp).

    Well, I am waiting – which is it? Just what does Obama deserve the praise that you and the other fawning journalists heap on him on a daily basis ad naseum.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  26. dina levine

    Melissa are you a nut? This President doesn't even belong to be president. He does not deserve it. What has he really done to prove that he knows anything about economics or anything else for that matter? He was a Community Leader, what did he balance? He's lucky if Michelle lets him get near their checkbook. He was a Senator for a short time that voted "present" way too many times because he knew it would be on his record. He hung around with anti-American people and was elected by the media. And you say people are harsh to him? Give me a break.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:59 pm |
  27. DB

    First, one should recognize that the Financial Times and the Economist are both notably right-of-center publications. That is admittedly center-right by British standards, but the point remains.

    Also, one should take a brief look at the Constitution – it's the role of the *legislature* to make laws. The president enforces them. Obama is bringing the presidency away from the imperial role that has dominated since Nixon, and returning it to a role more along the lines envisioned by the founding fathers.

    Do I like the energy bill? no – it's way too week. However, it has been created in precisely the way envisioned by our forefathers.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:59 pm |
  28. Joann

    Perhaps it is because the World Media doesn't see the President in the same light as the US media with rose colored glasses. I am guessing the world media is probably asking the same question about our media. What is this undeserved love affair between US media and this President.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  29. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    It's not a matter of Obama's leadership, it's that Obama himself has finally caught on that demanding the impossible leads only to disaster.

    Even a government can't spend the same dollar more than a couple of times and these stimulus things, expensive energy policies, universal health care, and on and on are just beyond the current capacity of the US economy.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm |
  30. Rick

    I, like most people in Europe, thought what a great opportunity for the USA to regain some of their credibility with Obama at the helm. I am not saying he is doing a bad job in most cases, but, I for one believe some of the gloss has worn off after he condemned the Honduran uprising outright and quite forcibly.
    Its easy for him to condemn a little island which poses no threat, yet standing by and watching millions of people being tortured and slaughtered in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Iran, Tibet, Myamar, to name some.
    Problem is, Obama fears he may upset China and God forbid that. Obamas halo has slipped and the rhetoric is proving true. Maybe he will organise an invasion of Cuba, or maybe Bermuda to regain his popularity which, I understand has fallen below 50%

    June 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm |
  31. malclave

    "Two defenses of President Obama seem in order"

    Gee, a "journalist" defending 0bama. How novel.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:46 pm |
  32. rich

    David ,You’re in the tank with President Obama! Just look at the stimulus package approved in the early days as a rush job for $786 billion and of that only $20 billion is deployed when the nation is in a massive recession. Our president should have learned from Chinese stimulus. I’m not sure if you were this generous with the President Bush..
    Pls highlight any decision of president Obama you disagree with. To date president Obama’s decisions have been disastrous for the nation and it’s about time you’re noticing it, as you call it by foreign press. And I hope President Obama modifies and stops electioneering and leads the nation to real Change.thx,.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:44 pm |
  33. democrat no mas

    Why is anyone surprised at this news? The man is very young and has never led anything in his life. I could see this coming many, many months ago. He is a brilliant speaker. Thats it. No More. He will learn in time, but we'll be very over leveraged as a country by that time. The problem with being older and wiser is that you are old. I know that too.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:43 pm |
  34. Lisa

    I applaud President Obama and his staff for their leadership and for their ability to effectively get things done within a very complex and difficult government arena. I can only imagine this to be a herculean task. I would like to comment on the healthcare system and the necessary restructuring.

    I only fully understood the multiple factors effecting our healthcare system when I was in graduate school. I had already been an RN for several years and still had not grasped the severe problems facing our healthcare system. Our system is clearly broken. I am certain there are a number of improvements and solutions being volleyed around on capital hill, but this is the one that has been on my mind.
    Why not an incentivized healthcare system?

    Why not offer rewards for those who obtain and maintain good health?
    We do it for car insurance and for life insurance, why not health insurance.? Of course, it would have to be measured objectively, such as, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol etc. I recall being sure to keep my grades up in high school so that my parents could get a "good student" discount on my car insurance. I firmly believe people would be motivated to improve their health, to receive a discount on their health insurance. What are your thoughts on this?

    June 29, 2009 at 7:38 pm |
  35. Saidapet Saidapet

    Excellent articel Mr. Gergen. One thing I have noticed with Pres. Obama is that people constantly under-estimate him and he has always taken a careful and patient approach to all the things he has doen regardless of the critisicm coming from.

    For e.g in this instance, in the past both energy bill and health-care bill never even left the drawing board, and I believe that President wants to get something rolling with concessions and then bring amendments later (which is always much easier). Because once some positive comes out of these bills, people cannot question it later and it would be hard press for the congress to allow it to fail, which they passed.

    And as everyone would know, it does not matter what the president thinks, it has to go through both congress and it is hard to convince 500 people to the same line of thinking.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  36. Annie Kate

    I still do not know if Obama's economy plan is going to work so jury is still out on that. I do know that environmentalists were given to believe that Obama and his administration would help conserve our mountains by strictly controlling and over time abolishing mountaintop removal mining – instead he put a few more review steps in the process of obtaining a permit but the mountaintop leveling will continue on – it will just take a little longer. This was a big flip-flop long-term and made me start looking at what Obama has done and hasn't done. Seemingly he tries to keep his campaign promises – he puts something out there to keep this promise or that and then when his premise is questioned he pulls it back. If this pattern continues nothing will get changed and Obama will hopefully be limited to 1 term. I am hoping though that he is going to change things as he said during the campaign and that this time next year we will all be more pleased with his performance and results.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  37. Jeanette

    People are upset over the press because they are getting on Obama a little bit, what about what they did to Bush? Nobody seemed to mind that.
    Our congress were the ones who wouldn't let Bush do any of the things he needed to do and the masses were all mad at Bush because he wasn't doing what was best for the country

    When are the people in our country going to get everybody now in government out and start anew. I for one am sick of our congress and both parties. We need new parties in our government or our country will go down the tubes.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  38. Mari

    Weak? I disagree. Did we not have enough war the last eight years?!
    Enough of saber rattling from the warmongers on the far-right?

    Diplomacy, and a cool level head is not weakness, its brilliance. Since WWII the U.S. has been the policeman of the world, and what has that gotten us? Enemies and the name, arrogant.

    President Obama is an intelligent man, that inherited a disaster from 8 years of what....... "strong leadership"?! Iraq was and is a mistake! And it will continue to cost our citizens countless trillions. Seven years later, we are still paying a price for Bush's war!

    And then there was McCain with his "bomb...... bomb..... bomb Iran"! What a hypocrite! One day he wants to bomb the people who are now demonstrating in the streets, the next he wants to support them!

    One can hardly judge and condemn a president after SIX months in Office, especially considering the disaster he inherited from Bush!

    Mr. Gergen, most of the periodicals you quoted are conservative. What can we expect but more of the same?

    I support President Obama, he is right in not interfering with Iran. He has to be cautious with N. Korea, after all, N. Korea is China's biggest ally and guess what? China OWNS us, thanks to ......... Bush!

    June 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  39. Tim Gibson

    Personally I believe the media in all corners have been very generous to Obama. His placement into power was very well organized by his party, out of the corruption of Chicago he rose like royal jelly in a world where the honey bee is threatened by colony collapse. The sparklers were dusted off and the stage made ready for the prince to arrive.

    His stand, as a well spoken person when it comes to public display, rates an Oscar for best outstanding performance by a male lead to date. Yet, his ability falls far short of the promised land.

    If we do not find any form of transparency in our congress and their actions, all the pay for play activity on the capital grounds we will remain a nation that fell from being a lender to a nation in debt and owned by the BONDage of China. Only the first wave of our collapse has arrived and as some may recall the small child running out on the beach to catch the fish when the tide went out as onlookers screamed for him to run and we all watched as the water swept him away, the real wave has not arrived. The numbers have not been counted and the bottom not hit.

    Obama has yet to evolve into an erect leader, one with backbone, one with courage, or one with strength. It has nothing to do with anything other than his lack of skill, his lack of experience, his lack of a real record. I did not care for Nixon, Carter, Reagan, or even Nancy when she ran the country, Clinton kind of blowed and both Bush cowboys are better left in Texas kicking rocks and fishing.

    June 29, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  40. Felix

    I'm alittle nerves about the North Korea problem we have and how he is handling it. I have no doubt that his plan will work here to energy , health care and other things. But Kim is whole other problem. I know he will look to his advisors to guide him through this. But I think they have made so bad moves.

    June 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  41. ED

    Taxes , taxes, taxes Obama,s words are just that Words. He is taking the USA on a joy ride to lower eveyone into a socialistic state.
    I am over seventy and happy that I lived my life in freedom. I do feel sorry for the kids .

    June 29, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  42. Beryl

    The "Fly in the White House" incident was funny but I saw President Obama's behavior as telling. President Obama does not posture ineffectively and past leaders. He acts decisively after weighing all options and "cleans up after himself".

    June 29, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  43. mnm2502

    I smell jimmy carter all over again

    June 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  44. cleffnote

    My only comment is, I think the President is doing a terrific job, next time let the writers of those columns try to give real solutions and not just criticism. I do have something I would like to say however, I think we need to quit talking about the failure of the Clinton administration to get health reform passed in his administration. The times were very different then. Since President Clinton was in office health care in America has continued to spiral down and the costs have soared up. Back then, not over 70% of the American citizenry thought that public health care was a good idea, only liberal Democrats thought that then, now the majority of Americans think so. We need a public option not just for our health, but also for our economy. Get this thing passed.

    June 29, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  45. Genesis Slaughter

    Frankly speaking, all the people sitting back criticizing Pres. Obama should take a deep breathe and reflect on all the presidents within the last 20 years and their contributions, good or bad, and see whether or not they had so much to say about their leadership. Let's be real, the main reason, if they were truthful, is that he is the first African American President, not to mention one with intellect, and they can't handle it. They can't wrap their heads around the realness that African Americans can and do lead! Why do you think that the Republican Party continues to be in opposition? They are still under cover in their bigotry. Fear has a way of gripping the best of them!

    June 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  46. RLWellman

    This new bill is over 1600 pages and the Democrats won't let anyone read it. WHY? What are they trying to hide? What kind of "controls" are they giving the Government over us? Are there thousands of PORK Projects in this bill too?

    Is this the bill where the Government controls our home thermostats? Why are we, the Citizens of the United States given rules about what we can and can't do, but the Government doesn't have to follow them? Doesn't this upset anyone else?

    Nancy Pelosi flys in a 200 passenger jet that costs over 6 million dollars per year just for gas alone. She doesn't like the smaller jet that was given her to fly back and forth from Washington to California. We, the taxpayers, pick up this cost.

    When we are made to drive around in pop cans, because the bigger cars get too bad of gas milage, do you think the Government will be driving pop cans? Nancy Pelosi warns against leaving "Carbon Footprints", how large a print do you think this 757 jet leaves?

    The "left" controls the media and these inflated polls, do you think the "honeymoon" may be over? Maybe the Citizens in the United States are getting fed up with the lies the media has been reporting?
    Maybe we aren't as stupid or naive as they think!

    June 29, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  47. Melissa

    How can Obama address any of these concerns when Congress will effectively hamstring anything the President tries to pass because they are more concerned with money than anything else?

    I have never seen a more harshly treated President. Ever. And I have been alive to see Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, The Shrub, and now Obama.

    Its a no-win situtation and Obama is in the middle of a war zone. I'm sure he'd love to be harsher on climate change, but this country is so resistant to anything resembling real useful change that he has NO CHOICE but to bent further than he'd like.

    The way the people in this country behave is completely and utterly incomprehensible. They want change, but they don't want to pay for any of it. They know that the country is failing as it is, but they're so scared of the possible future that they aren't willing to consider anything else. And that is AFTER hiring a President that stands on change.

    He's trying. But if he goes very far left at all, he can't get anything done and Congress will put a stop to it because the people of the country won't actually fight for anything Obama stands for.

    And THEN they blame him for it when its THEM thats stopping HIM from accomplishing whats needed. Unbelievable.

    June 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  48. JC- Los Angeles

    As everyone around the globe found out with the mortgage meltdown, the end results can be catastrophic when everyone goes all in a perceived good thing.

    Barack Obama has been the next perceived good thing since he spoke at the Democratic National Convention; unfortunetly, his scant accomplishments hardly warrant the accolades.

    He came along at the perfect time and has been hand delivered opportunities to lead, however, it's just not in his nature.

    His inability to make firm and timely decisions, his penchant for surrounding himself with lousy company and his desire to make everyone happy while pleasing no one will lead to his ultimate downfall.

    June 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  49. Teresa, Oh

    I did not vote for President Obama and it was because I felt he was "weak". I still feel that way and I dont think I was wrong.

    However, everything taken into consideration, he is doing an above average job. Our country should be pleased w/ him as our prez.

    Sometimes, I think our "media" ( the headlines Mr. Gergen refers to) do far more damage to us than the actual events that happened.

    June 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  50. SLM

    What leadership? He is a great delegater and let's congress do all the work............but why does that surprise anyone? After all he is known for his "present" vote on many issues. The media needs to get past their awe for Obama and start asking the hard questions we want answers to.

    June 29, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
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