Jonathan Alter: Obama Must Get Bold, Tell Republicans 'It's On'

August 19th, 2011

Bloomberg View
By Jonathan Alter
August 18, 2011

As he golfs and bikes on Martha’s Vineyard, President Barack Obama will have plenty of time to think about how to get his presidency back on track.

Some aides are calling the major speech he plans to deliver after Labor Day a “reset” of his administration. That may understate its political importance.

Obama prides himself on being a clutch player. Although the election is still 15 months away, the speech is like a critical third-and-long in football. Victory doesn’t depend on conversion, but it sure would help. If fall brings no better news than summer, the president could enter 2012 trailing Texas Governor Rick Perry, a guy who thinks Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and that the chairman of the Federal Reserve is a traitor.

Obama must work on two tracks — one idealistic, the other practical. The moment calls for him to offer a big vision for how to fix the economy, even if it doesn’t have a prayer of passage. Then he should unveil smaller actions that could win congressional approval, plus a few imaginative executive orders that might let him move the needle on employment unilaterally.

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