For Obama, success is at hand

The premature gloom about Obama's presidency will soon be swept away by the reality: Obama is resurgent.

Robert Shrum

In the Iliad, the father of Achilles counsels him to be “both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.” At least since his electrifying 2008 appearance before 200,000 in Berlin, there has been a tendency to credit Barack Obama for the words and to doubt him on the deeds. Across the Media-and-Beltway bio-feedback loop, that doubt has now intensified. Except in this world of instant analysis, of outcomes proclaimed before events unfold, this skepticism would represent an inexplicably premature verdict on a President who is on the verge of overseeing economic revival and the historic achievement of national health reform.

The gloom comes from the usual suspects—and some unlikely ones. On “Meet the Press,” the Rev. Rick Warren, the self-improvement guru and, apparently, now an economic expert, said that while he wouldn’t criticize the president who invited him to pray at the inauguration, he thought there was “too much on the agenda.” Presumably Warren was echoing the advice from other quarters that Obama should focus on employment and postpone health reform. This counsel is proffered without any recognition that soaring health costs and the denial of care constitute not only social injustice, but a fundamental threat to recovery.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.