Day: February 3, 2009

Barack Obama and Access to the Media

President Obama is to be applauded for promoting access to the news media so readily and frequently already after only two weeks in office.

He has held interviews with many television and cable correspondents already, including five just today, as part of his attempt to promote public support of his economic stimulus package.  He has presented a relaxed image and has admitted mistakes and taken responsibility for "messing up" on some of his appointees who have withdrawn.  He has come across as a "regular" fellow and reminds one of the media approach of John F. Kennedy.  What  a total difference from the lack of accessibility and openness of George W. Bush!

My thought is that IF he continues this approach to the media, Barack Obama will be able to gain the backing of the American people in most of his endeavors and his public opinion rating will therefore remain high.  He has the ability to use the media contact as a "bully pulpit", much like Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy utilized it  in the last century. Bravo to the President for a great start in this regard!

The Economic Stimulus Package and GOP Governors

It is time for the Republicans in Congress to stop playing politics and support the Economic Stimulus package proposed by President Obama and backed by many GOP governors in a public statement today.

Governors Charlie Crist of Florida, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and Jim Douglas of Vermont are among the Republican governors who have made clear that they want to see the success of President Obama, despite their party affiliations, as a necessary part of the economic recovery that is needed to benefit the whole nation.  They are not taking the negative, obstructionist attitude of Rush Limbaugh, the House Republicans and many Senate Republicans.  So the governors, who have to deal with reality on the ground in their states, are appealing for bi-partisan support, which we can hope will resonate with their congressional colleagues.  The economic situation is desperate and getting worse by the day, so how about it for once, Republicans, do what is right for the masses instead of only what is good for the elite upper class!

The Loss of Tom Daschle as HHS Secretary

President Obama and the nation suffered a loss today when Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader, and nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary in the President’s cabinet, decided to withdraw his name because of a tax problem that embarrassed him and would have made his confirmation hearings more contestable, although it was clear he would have been confirmed.

Daschle was considered the right person to promote a national health care plan after more than sixty years of constant failure to bring about such a program, dating back originally to the Truman Presidency.  Therefore, it is a significant blow to the ongoing plans for national health care legislation.  Obama set such a high standard for ethics that the result is he has faced problems with several nominees and some have withdrawn in addition to Daschle, the most significant being Bill Richardson.

Obama must quickly find a replacement for Daschle, as the issue of health care is one of the most important goals of his Presidency, and he must seek out the best possible candidate to fill this position sooner rather than later.  I would like to suggest Dr. Howard Dean, the former Vermont Governor, presidential contender in 2004, and recent head of the Democratic National Committee who brought about the 50 state strategy that led to the Democratic victory in the 2008 Presidential election.  No position has yet been offered to Dean, and it seems to me his nomination would be an excellent choice for this cabinet post!