“This isn’t about my personality. This isn’t about anybody’s personality.”
So said Larry Summers on Fox News Sunday.
While it was clear he didn’t have the personality to be an effective spokesman for Barack Obama on anything, he also seemed unable to explain why this stimulus is so absolutely necessary.
In this photo provided by FOX News, Larry Summers, chairman of the White House National Economic Council, appears on ‘Fox News Sunday’ in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. (AP Photo/FOX News Sunday, Freddie Lee)
After the statement, “without this stimulus we’ll have economic catastrophe,” please someone tell us what is so good about this stimulus?
Last Thursday afternoon I would have said Barack Obama was his own best spokesman to “sell” this stimulus to the American people.
But on Thursday night he went to a spa in Williamsburg, Virginia and gave an ugly, partisan attack on Republicans; not a bipartisan urge for American to unite in times of economic crisis.
And nobody on the Democrat side has given anything close to a line by line defense of this stimulus.
And this has hurt Barack Obama and his presidency much more than the flawed vetting process that brought us tax scofflaws like Tom Daschle.
“It shrinks his presidency,” said former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich Friday at the American Enterprise Institute. “I thought last night’s speech in Williamsburg actually was a lot more like Carter and a long way from Reagan.”
Historian Gingrich said Friday, “Reagan would never have allowed himself that level of partisanship and that kind of aggressiveness in that kind of setting. So you could either have a strategy that says, ‘I’m going to go over and I’m going to be bipartisan and I’m going to prove it and here’s how I’m going to it. In which he case he wouldn’t have gone down last night. He would, in fact, have invited Pelosi and Boehner and he would have invited Reid and McConnell down to the White House to collectively hammer out the bipartisan compromise. That’s one strategy. Or there’s the strategy … that’s perfectly reasonable, that says, ‘I won, we won and we’re running over you but we’re going to deliver. … What he’s doing now is Carter-ism because he’s trying to live out both strategies and you gotta figure out which morning it is by which strategy he’s using today. And what that will do is totally clutter who he is.”
On Sunday, Gingrich recommended that the president leave his campaign-style anger at home during his stimulus sales trip this week.
Gingrich wasn’t the only one critical of the president on leadership last week. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the preident was AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) on the stimulus — and yesterday that earned him a rebuke in the senate that sounded a lot like gay bashing.
If the president has lost his ability to “sell” the stimulus; who can do the job?
Nancy Pelosi? She’s largely seen as an over the top partisan Democrat — and the single person most responsible for the waste (read pork) in the stimulus.
Governors and mayors? They just want the money and care nothing about the down-side of debt, inflation and the rest.
Harry Reid? He has largely stayed out of any national leadership role on this, preferring, apparently, to manage the president’s agenda in the senate.
Larry Summers? I saw him on the Sunday morning talk shows and thought he was a very lame spokesperson.
Didn’t pay his taxes Geithner? He seems to be laying low. He’s working on TARP II “Son Of Tarp.”
So with about 50% of the nation’s voters now turning against the stimulus, President Obama will continue his “Catastrophe Cavalcade” outside Washington and on the road this week.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama would travel to Elkhart, Indiana, on Monday for a town hall meeting on the stimulus bill before holding a White House news conference on Monday night.
Elkhart is where many American recreational vehicles are made — and in hard economic times many people just won’t buy a new RV.
Obama will be in Fort Myers, Florida this Tuesday — in an area with the nation’s highest foreclosure rate.
Meanwhile, the less photogenic Republican leaders, it seemed to me, made a lot of sense and a lot of good points.
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said it would cost some $40 billion a year just to service the additional debt that resulted from the spending portions of the bill.
“How big is $40 billion? That’s the annual road budget, the annual highway budget for the United States of America. That’s a lot of money,” Sessions said.
If this stimulus is so great, and the House and the Senate are both dominated by articulate Democrats, how come Democrats can’t make better arguments and put forward better spokesmen for this stimulus?
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Larry Summers on Fox News Sunday