With the president? Why yes, I think we do:
WASHINGTON — Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and a handful of other House Democrats expressed deep frustration with President Barack Obama’s leadership on Wednesday, saying he needs to do more to set the direction for the progressive movement.
Across the aisle, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has struggled to wrangle the various wings of his conference and pass budget measures through the lower chamber. Weiner told a group of journalists and bloggers on Capitol Hill that the Republican leader has a tough job of trying to hold “a coalition of crazies and completely crazies together.”
But Republicans, Weiner said, have nonetheless long done a better job of making their case — “smaller government, smaller deficits, lower taxes” — to the public and each other. The Democratic Party remains unclear as to its core policy principles, Weiner said, and part of the problem is Obama.
“On our side is this weird squishy affirmative sense of what government should do and how we’re opposed to this cut and that cut, rather than saying, ‘Here are the things: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, environment and education. We’re not cutting those. Those are off the table. That’s non-negotiable,'” said Weiner, adding, “We haven’t really done that very well. That’s because the president fundamentally — he’s not a values guy. He wants to try to get the best deal for the American people and that’s virtuous in its own right, but it becomes very difficult to make a strategy. There’s been much greater global strategy thinking on [progressive media] outlets, frankly, than at 1600 Pennsylvania.”
When asked by The Huffington Post whether what’s happening at the state and local level with labor unions and budget battles would rise to the national stage, Weiner said that the leadership of national officials — including the president — will be essential to push the issue forward.
“We’ve spent a lot of time waiting for Godot when it comes to the Obama White House, and we kind of — to some degree — have to internalize the idea that, you know what? That’s probably not the way to go,” Weiner said. “We have to start initiating some of this.”
Continued Weiner: “It is now pretty clear to me — I’m not saying this is pejorative — the president, he doesn’t animate his day by saying, ‘All right, what is the thing that has me fired up today? I’m going to out and try to move the ball on it.’ He kind of sees his job as to take this calamitous noise that’s going on on the left with people like us and on the right on Fox News, and his path to being a successful president, in his view, is taking that cacophony and trying to make good, level-headed, smart policy out of it and moving it incrementally down the road. That’s nice. That’s a good thing. We need that, obviously. The problem is there’s no substitute for someone really leaning into these values questions. “