The Overpromising President

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jan 26, 2011 12:25 PM
Many of the posts below outline the reaction to the President's SOTU, and highlight what's becoming a troubling trend for the President: Many Americans simply don't believe his words mean very much.

This, in turn, creates two memes that are profoundly troublesome for any politician running for re-election: First, that he overpromises and under-delivers; second, that his words really don't mean anything, and hence aren't worth listening to.  The first chips away at the trust that any successful leader needs; the second chips away at the attention he must be able to command if he is to lead effectively.

There's no question that President Clinton was truth-challenged.  But most of his issues pertained to matters that, while important, had only a peripheral relationship to the substance of his governance.  With President Obama, that's just not the case.

Much has been made of the President's somewhat flat, desultory delivery.  Couldn't that be because he really isn't that enthusiastic about having to acknowledge -- even rhetorically -- some limits in terms of what government can spend and do?  It seems to me that President Obama perked up the most when he was waxing lyrical about the power of mighty government to do almost anything short of slowing the rise of the oceans (that one is reserved for him, alone).

Finally, notwithstanding all the domestic issues that confront us, one hopes that leaders in foreign lands didn't interpret the almost complete neglect of foreign policy issues as a sign of disinterest and disengagement -- or an invitation to move in ways that aren't in the US's interest.