Just because you beat Mitt Romney - and John McCain before him - doesn’t mean you’re a great president. President Obama has proved to be brilliant at digital organizing and winning elections. But his presidency so far has beeen less than meets the eye. He has yet to improve the lives and lot of average Americans; to erect the edifices of health care and banking reform; to enact immigration reform or implement strong new environmental rules; or to set a consistent course for our role in the world.
Most people think that Obama isn’t interested in civility because his actions over the last four years have shown him to be deeply polarizing. In order for anyone to take him at his word, he needs to be specific about how when it comes to crucial things, he’ll work for unity - crucial things such as the debt crisis, massive deficit, a weak job market, gun violence, a tax overhaul and energy. The inaugural address is a great opportunity for the president to persuade without insulting; to make his best case, and most of all, to understand and appeal to the values of those on the other side - something he’s really never done.
Obama, since November, has confidently picked fights with Republicans and challenged the most conservative members of his own party on a broad range of foreign policy and domestic social issues. Besides gun control, these include immigration and the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan. Understanding the political limits, while also recognizing strategic opportunities, is an essential part of a president’s job responsibility.
Jess Ornelas letter: Recognizing opportunities