Editorial Commentary / Opinion
Scott Sullivan: How to rescue Obama
President Obama’s supporters are dismayed at his poor performance at last Wednesday’s national press conference. Instead of gaining respect as the US Commander in Chief, Obama apparently wants to become known for restructuring US health care policy, as demonstrated by Obama's mastery of the details associated with his health reform plan.
It is evident that President Obama has now decided to put aside all other issues to focus exclusively on health care reform. Obama has made a big mistake with this decision for three reasons.
First, Obama gives the impression that his Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathy Sibelius is incapable of taking the lead on health care issues. If this is the case, Obama has picked the wrong person for HHS. This failure suggests that Obama himself might not be up to the task of selecting amd managing the new Federal bureaucracy that would be created by his bid to bring the US private sector health care industry under Executive Branch control.
Second, an Obama failure on health care reform could put his entire presidency at risk, given Obama's outsized role in the national debate on this issue. Unfortunately for Obama, it now appears Obama’s plan has bogged down in Congress as key congressional committees fail to meet his deadline of producing a comprehensive health reform plan before Congress departs for the August recess.
Third, as Obama focuses on health care reform, he is paying a high price for ignoring national security and foreign policy issues. Two issues demand his immediate attention. First, Honduras and Iran are both drifting into civil war. Second, Hillary Clinton has been sidelined at the State, mainly due to her own blunders on issues like Iran, as evidenced by her recent comments that incorrectly suggest US acceptance of an Iranian nuclear weapons capability. Does President Obama know or care about what is happening with Honduras and Iran, and with Hillary Clinton's blunders at State?
What should President Obama do? Obama must take the radical step of swapping jobs with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton will become the new Health Reform Czar and will deliver the Senate -- where Clinton still has many close friends -- for Obama's health reform plan. Once the Senate is in tandem with Obama on health care reform legislation, he should be able to negotiate acceptable compromise with the House of Representatives on this issue. Obama would then be entitled to claim victory on Health Care Reform.
Meanwhile, Obama will assume the authority of the Secretary of State and will immediately address the problems of Honduras and Iran. By adopting a pro-Ahmadinejad policy -- as France, Russia and China have done—Obama will gain Iran's support in for US policy in the Middle East and in Honduras/Latin America. Obama would then be entitled to claim major victories for US foreign policy.
Does anyone else have a better idea?
Scott Sullivan is a former Washington government employee and was the Senior Advisor for International Economics at the Crisis Management Center of the National Security Council, 1984 - 1986. Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.
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Petroleumworld News 07/29/09
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