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How Obama Can Win Friends and Influence People

Mr. President, what we have here is not a failure to communicate.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

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January 25, 2010 - 12:00 am
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After Republican Scott Brown’s impressive and hugely significant victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, I wrote that the one saving grace for Democrats was Republicans. Not all of them drive trucks, and those who reside in Washington tend to be just as clueless, arrogant, and separated from reality as their Democratic counterparts.

But after President Obama’s post-election interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, it’s time for me to complete the thought. If those clueless and arrogant Republicans who are separated from reality have a saving grace, it’s Obama.

It wasn’t just the obvious head-scratchers. Does the president really believe that “the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office,” in reference to voter anger and frustration? With so many Americans so clearly saying that they want this administration to slow down its agenda, did he really head off in the other direction and say, “I wish we had gotten it done faster”? And does the country’s chief executive really think that it’s not in his job description to “navigate” how Congress goes about tackling one public policy issue or another, when that is exactly what presidents do?

What was really troubling about the interview was where it became even clearer that Obama just doesn’t get it.

Like when he tried to explain his first-year failures by blaming the culture in Washington, a place where “you have to repeat yourself a lot because unfortunately it doesn’t penetrate.”

Mr. President, what we have here is not a failure to communicate. Most of the time, you come through loud and clear. Lawmakers just don’t like what you’re saying and their constituents back home like it even less.

Or when he said that his major deficiency was that he hadn’t been better at “breaking through the noise and speaking directly to the American people in a way that during the campaign you could do.”

What? As president, you can speak directly to the American people any time you want to. But you already know that because, since being sworn in, you’ve held so many televised town halls, press conferences, and major addresses to the nation that, at times, you’ve seemed ubiquitous. You’re on everything but American Idol.

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