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What If There’s No There There?

Obama’s ‘vision thing.’

Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By JAY COST
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Why couldn’t Obama take the lead on any of these issues? If the country is stalemated on whether the government should grow or shrink, there is still an opportunity to build coalitions on reforming it. This would be good for the liberal project that Obama generally supports. One reason people do not want larger government is that they believe it does a bad job with its current assignments. If Obama spearheaded a campaign to improve various functions of government, people might become amenable to a larger federal presence. Why not go for it?

The answer is “the vision thing.” It includes a mix of traits that Obama does not seem to possess: taking ownership of a public problem, holding fast to core principles, guiding experts toward a solution, making the most of one’s legitimate role in the constitutional system, and building a legislative coalition to transform rhetoric into law. In six years as president, has Obama ever once done that, start to finish?

In the final analysis, Obama’s vision seems to have been for Barack Obama to be in the White House, which he accomplished more than five years ago. No wonder he has so much time to go golfing these days.

Jay Cost is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

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