Although being a new media-based political figure is a good way for a relatively-unknown candidate to mobilize his base, it has its disadvantages. For one, the comments that new media-based candidates make tend to live on a little longer than one would hope. Furthermore, these candidates have a hard time changing positions on issues — even if doing so makes sense — without coming across as hypocritical.
This is the problem that President Obama faces with his proposed two-year freeze on federal employees’ wages.
Just two years ago, during his presidential run, when John McCain (R-AZ) advocated a freeze on non-vital spending until the financial crisis was resolved, President Obama’s response noted the need not to act with “a hatchet when a scalpel will do.” Well, after mocking McCain’s proposal to freeze federal employees’ wages in 2008, the electorally-strung Democrats — led by the White House’s recent admission that, perhaps, the Obama administration should have reached out more to Republicans (which would include the president’s former 2008 rival) — seem to be subtly giving a “mea culpa.”
Both the actual proposal — and the implied admission — are probably not enough. The proposal to freeze federal wages comes from a desperate White House that is rapidly running out of ideas and support, even from its allies. The move makes the administration look weak and uncertain.
Just two years ago, McCain was being criticized for the confusion his campaign created around the first presidential debate, which Senator McCain initially refused to attend, only to later acquiesce to participating — a move that reeked of caving in to the competition after trying to draw a line in the sand.
For President Obama, his line in the sand was drawn in early 2009, when he informed Congressional Republicans that he had won the election, then proceeded to give Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) the keys to the Congressional kingdom. Today, the president’s plan to freeze federal spending makes it look like he is admitting to having chosen the wrong policies over the first half of his presidential term. Worst still, the president’s political concession this week to the Republicans — much like McCain’s concession to him during the controversy over the first presidential debate in September 2008 — says a lot about the perceptions of power and vulnerability in Washington these days. If this is what the Democrats have to look forward to for the next two years, Obama won’t be reelected in 2012.
Sadly for the president’s legacy, this week’s political admission stands as merely another example of Mr. Obama eating political crow so soon after ruling the roost. Whether the president can recover in time for the 2012 election remains an open question.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the host of “Launching Chicago with Lenny McAllister” at 5 AM on WVON The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM (www.wvon.com) He is the author of the upcoming edition of the book, “The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010: Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative).” Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .