by Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Sometimes President Barack Obama is just too reflective for his own good.
“That’s one of the dangers of assuming power,” Obama said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday. “When you’re campaigning, you, I think you’re liberated to say things without thinking about, ‘Okay, how am I gonna actually practically implement this.’”
It was a candid revelation – and just what Republicans wanted to hear: Obama leaving the perception that he overpromised during the campaign and underdelivered once he moved into the White House.
And more important, Obama acknowledged that while he was in campaign mode, he had concerns about how to govern effectively.
“You know, I think that over the course of two years, we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that we – yeah, leadership isn’t just legislation,” Obama said. “That it’s a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. We haven’t always been successful at that, and I take personal responsibility for that.”
Obama spent a good portion of the “60 Minutes” interview analyzing himself, apologizing for a lapse in leadership, accepting responsibility for an unstable economy, failing to articulate his agenda and taking the blame for seemingly just about everything that’s gone wrong in America except for the Dallas Cowboys abysmal 1-7 record.
While it’s commendable that Obama is telling the American people that he takes responsibility for the 9.6 percent unemployment rate (16.5 percent for African-Americans), the overall somber tone – and lack of spirit by the president – was noteworthy.
The 15-minute interview shined a bright light on an embattled president who did little to rally the faithful.
“I do get discouraged,” Obama said in a string of sobering admissions.
Good to know, but what many Americans really need to hear – especially those who are struggling to make ends meet – is that Obama remains a determined leader who is upbeat, confident and has a solid plan to jump-start the economy and put Americans back to work.
One black Democrat who watched the Obama interview offered this analogy: If Obama was leading troops into combat, would soldiers be inspired to charge into war with him?
Based on Sunday’s interview, probably not.
The point here is while Obama is a bright, honest and engaging leader, he doesn’t have to bear his soul and share all of his personal setbacks during one nationally-televised interview. Honesty is admirable, but too much honesty can kill a political career.
To his credit, the president did say that he’s thinking positively, and he trusts that real change is on the horizon. But those comments came late in the discussion, and he wasn’t particularly convincing.
And so when Obama returns to Washington after a 10-day trip to India and Asia, he will be faced with the nagging reality that he’s becoming perceived as a weak leader – in part because he helped fuel the perception himself while stretched out on the proverbial psychiatrist couch on national television.
“You know,” Obama said, “that I’ll get knocked down a couple times.”
Some Democrats say Obama is still lying face down on the mat.
The historic defeat last Tuesday when Republicans took control of the House has resulted in Obama losing ground with every major voting bloc that supported him in 2008.
“This guy swept to power on a wave of adulation, and he learned the wrong lessons from that,” one Democratic official told POLITICO. “He’s more of a movement leader than a politician. He needs someone to kick his ass on things large and small and teach him to be a politician.”
Many Democrats on Capitol Hill complain privately that Obama is distant and aloof, and they worry about Obama’s political resiliency and his ability to successfully articulate his message to Americans in 2012.
And they wonder if Obama will ever be able to effectively navigate the subtle politics of Washington and grasp the nuances of working with Republicans to advance his legislative agenda. Obama, meanwhile, in another self-reflective moment, expressed his personal observations about Washington.
“In terms of setting the tone and how this town operates,” Obama said on “60 Minutes, “we just didn’t pay enough attention to some of the things that we had talked about. And, you know I’m paying a political price for that.”