Will Obama Get A Pass From Us On Wall Street in 2012?

by George Kennedy on August 28, 2011

Will Obama Get A Pass From us on Wall Street in 2012?

I think the answer to that question depends upon what happens with the economy and the “Gang of 12.” Frank Rich recently authored an explosive article in Rolling Stone Magazine in which he excoriates the president “For Letting Wall Street Off the Hook.” For those that see a lipnk between this failure and the president’s re-election, the issue, or the president’s failure, matters greatly. I think this particular issue did not make the cut for the average middle class American.

Dinner table conversations center on uncertainty, fear, working three jobs and still falling behind; a college education increasingly unlikely barring financial assistance or a scholarship, unemployment or the threat of it, no health insurance, and trying to ward off foreclosure. The Robber Barons on Wall Street don’t make the cut because Americans with real concerns are unlikely to be investors. To them, the president may get a “pass.” I said, “may.” They understand the disconnect between the president’s rhetoric on fairness, rolling back the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000, and holding anyone accountable for “the mess he inherited”, and his continuing need for campaign contributions from Wall Street. They may not like it, but they do get it.

Where the middle class will hold him accountable – and rightly so – is on the health of the economy and whether he has a real plan to create jobs. They will hold him accountable if he accepts Republican orthodoxy for more cuts and no new revenues if the economy takes another major hit. They will be outraged with a stimulus plan heavily weighted toward further tax cuts for the rich,
bailouts, and higher levels of unemployment.

To them, now is the time to get in front of this freight train. A senior advisor to the president’s re-election team says “the president is not obsessed with keeping his job.” I understand the context of that statement. Absent a challenger in 2012, how about obsessing over a plan to create jobs and not just point to legislative proposals currently held up in Congress? How about a little “fire in the belly?” the kind that tells us you’re our champion, that you have a plan you will go the distance for? It’s good that you are now asking us to join you but there is something lacking in you this time around.

Remember “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!” Well, Mr. President, you seem reluctant to do that. If you have a real plan, lay it out. Tell us what it is going to cost and that your obsession right now is to Congress on board – or else. Call your detractors out by name; tell them what you want to put this country back to work and force them to defy the will of the American people.

Now, that is real contrast. That, Mr. President, is the leadership we are waiting for. We just want to know if that is worthy of an obsession.

George Kennedy

George Kennedy is a retired senior Foreign Service officer with extensive international experience. He holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon and two graduate degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kennedy was a political advisor to state and federal officials and has authored strategy pieces for Members of Congress and presidential candidates. He serves on the Advisory Board for the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona.

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