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campaign in poetry, govern in prose?

Over at Time.com, Mr. Grunwald wrote about what Obama has done for the environment. He's reacting to a common complaint from U.S. environmentalists that Obama doesn't talk nearly enough about climate change and the like. But look at what he's done, quoth Grunwald! America's jump in green technologies like manufacturing batteries and chargers for electric cars shows that Obama's actions haven't overlooked the environment, whatever you might say about his speaking record.

I honestly don't know about this issue to challenge Mr. Grunwald on any of his facts. So I'm willing to accept that we have more green jobs now, and that that's Obama's doing. I'll even grant that this was the most we could expect any president to do on the environment, given the economy and everything else going on. All of that seems reasonable enough, and Mr. Grunwald's the one putting himself out there as an authority on this. But does that earn Obama a pass on not talking about the economy?

I'm not so sure. I know people have different priorities, different issues they care about. But I tend to think the president is supposed to be a communicator-in-chief - even more than he needs to be a CEO or lawyer or activist. Obviously the practical things matter. All the talk about peace won't change the fact that we're now in yet another quasi-war, that the Patriot Act was extended, and so on. But I think Obama has fallen down on that communication aspect of things. So often I don't know his position or why. That's partly the news industry's bland Dems-say-this-Reps-answer-with-that style of reporting. Partly it's because of forces beyond his control like large portions of the country not being interested in talking or not being able to hear and respect people from outside their neighborhood of the body politic.

And really, that's upsetting. I long for what Jed Bartlett (the West Wing president) once called a "great conversation." If Obama received any sort of a mandate back in 2008, it was for more of that kind of dialogue - and Obama simply hasn't delivered there. He's delivered in other areas, of course, but actions don't make up for a (lack of) words.

This entry was originally posted at http://fidesquaerens.dreamwidth.org/3118.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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