Fri, 06 Mar 2009 23:13:06 +0000 – This has been an amazing week in Obamaland. The good news is that the president did what he said he would do and took on health care. I was lucky enough to sit in a "break-out" session Thursday with his White House Conference on Health Reform. It was about as bipartisan as you can get. There were real voices from both sides of the aisle from Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind-VT) to Roy Blunt (R-Mo). The "interest" groups and stakeholders were from all sides of the health care debate as well. Included in the breakout session was Fredette West from Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and John Engler from the National Association of Manufacturers. There was wide agreement that something needs to be done. Everything is on the table -- from reducing liability to the single payer system. What was surprising were the two references to Hillary's health Czar, Ira Magaziner. -- No love lost there for him and the 1993 health debacle. Obama is not going to make that mistake, that was clear.
On the other hand, there is a recruiting problem in the Treasury Department and the complete free fall in the stock market as the employment data came out on Friday. The confidence level in the president is way up. His popularity is 15 points higher than when he was elected.
Pollster John Zogby says this is based on his "sheer personality". At the same time 46 percent of Americans disapprove of his budget and 41 approve. When there are times like these and a rapid 24 hour news cycle the president should use the good will he has to communicate with the American people. He should stop having the traditional "roll out" White House events where he gives a speech and sends his press secretary to answer questions. He needs to do what he did right after he was elected-- do his own press. Every day should be the occassion for an FDR-type "Fireside Chat" accessible via television, Internet and radio.
Everyday should be an illumination of what he is doing and how he is going to help the millions of people who have lost or or about to lose their jobs. He is popular, people trust him and he ought to use every blood cell in his body to let the American people know how he is going to put the economy and the country in a new direction.