Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Andrew Sullivan on Obama's Budget: Too Weak, Cautious, Beholden to Politics to Lead

I'm interested in Andrew Sullivan's response to Mr. Obama's budget, which Sullivan entitles "Obama to the Next Generation: Screw You, Suckers," for two reasons:

First, Andrew Sullivan has been among the president's staunchest defenders, and has frequently argued that his cool pragmatism is Obama's crowning virtue, and the basis of his success as a leader.  And, if I recall correctly, the president evidently receives this praise with some satisfaction, since he has told the media that he reads Sullivan's Daily Dish blog faithfully.

But second, and more importantly, Sullivan criticizes Obama for the very same reason for which I criticized him (again) yesterday: for his failure to lead.  Sullivan argues that "this president is too weak, too cautious, too beholden to politics over policy to lead."

I don't often agree with Andrew Sullivan on economic issues--though I do agree with and defend him on many other issues.  I think he's right on target, however, to find Mr. Obama's new federal budget a  politically calculating and ineffectual  approach to a serious economic crisis that demands much more principled and forthright leadership--and he's right in arguing that the failure to lead in this case places a tremendous albatross around the necks of the next generation.

If the president is now losing friends like Andrew Sullivan with his vacillating and principles-lite "pragmatic" leadership, he's in serious trouble.  It's about leadership.  And human rights.  And he's not leading.

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