In a talk at in November 2010, veteran Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter warned that although President Obama spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the federal stimulus package and helped avert a global financial meltdown, his political fate would be sealed unless he succeeded in getting the national economy back on track.
In his lecture, titled “Can Obama Get His Groove Back?” which you can read about by clicking this link, Alter also argued that for all his brilliance on the 2008 campaign trail, Obama suffers from a surprising lack of effective communication skills. The professor-in-chief in the president, said Alter, betrays a disdain for sound bites, which can be deadly in politics.
Lately, however, Obama appears to be putting his talent for political populism to good use. According to Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus, the president renewed his long overdue conversation with disgruntled voters in a speech in Kansas this past week by framing the 2012 presidential election as a stark choice between two political philosophies.
“His message—that Main Street has been squeezed by Wall Street and that the future will be even bleaker unless we raise taxes on the wealthy and invest in education, science and infrastructure—isn't new,” write McManus in a Times op-ed on Sunday. “But the president put it in a sharper, more moralistic framework than he has offered during most of his first three years in office.”
Click here to read McManus’s article about the potential rewards and pitfalls that Obama can expect from polarizing the political debate—and why it's unclear how his strategy will play out with independent voters who are the real deciders of political fortunes in present-day America.