If you believe that the rapidly expanding federal deficit and the free-wheeling spending that fuels it are the nation’s most dire problems — as many Americans do — then President Barack Obama’s continued inability to address this foremost national dilemma is increasingly disturbing.
Friday, Obama failed to deliver the country from the drastic carrot-and-stick spending cuts predicament called “sequestration.” The congressionally constructed quandary was supposed to be so dire that belligerent Democrats and cantankerous Republicans would work out a harmonious deal to avoid it.
But no deal was delivered.
It is the latest in a series of looming fiscal crises this president has faced, come away with nothing from Congress, and essentially left the country in the same problematic state it was in prior to repeated bouts of national hand-wringing.
Supporters of the president legitimately attribute his failure to House tea party Republicans, a group that has resolutely, and often spitefully defied Obama at every turn.
This faction embodies a very unique, historic resistance to the nation’s first biracial president that some argue borders on racial malevolence.
But the nation did not make history by electing and re-electing Obama to espouse ideas most voters agree with only to see him repeatedly fail to deliver the goods and use the GOP as his habitual cop-out.
A president’s job is to lead the country successfully through adversity. And successful leadership requires taking loses among several battles to win a singular war.
Further, a president is judged as much on their effectiveness as on their agenda. This is where history may be unkind to Obama.
What would Lincoln be to America if his promise that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” wasn’t kept? Or how would FDR be remembered if he simply talked about a New Deal, but never delivered?
Granted, Obama passed a controversial, landmark healthcare law that previous giants in the White House failed to deliver. And he brought Osama bin Laden — the architect of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States — to an overdue justice.
Most of Obama’s successes came in his first two years. But after the cyclical midterm congressional realignment, the president has been repeatedly rebuffed by a contrarian Congress.
Since then, he’s had to lean increasingly on Vice President Joe Biden, a 36-year veteran of the U.S. Senate who knows how to coax deals out of a dogmatic lawmakers.
Though the vice president has largely been a dissenting voice in the administration, Obama has also relied on the Scranton native’s deal-making acumen, foreign policy expertise, and political instincts to achieve some of his most foundational victories.
Biden has helped Obama’s efforts to incrementally resolve the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling crises, and lately is advancing gun control initiatives that poll in the 90 percentile across the nation.
The vice president’s legislative expertise has delivered for a president who spent a scant half term in the U.S. Senate and seven years in the Illinois legislature.
Obama would have been wise to deploy Biden’s talents in this latest budgetary concern.
Instead, the president again stood toe-to-toe with his congressional nemesis — a recalcitrant House Republican caucus — and delivered little more than the same warmed-over excuses to the nation.
Such repeated failures reinforce the notion that Democrats either don’t believe the deficit is as significant a problem as it is, or simply don’t care.
Either way, the party is playing Russian roulette with Americans’ legitimate fiscal concerns.
Ultimately, President Obama and his party will be responsible for whatever financial repercussions the nation endures because they have not adequately addressed a clear and present danger on their watch.