Hold the Details
As we have already seen, President Obama, like most leaders, will be criticized no matter what he does. Geitner was criticized because of lack of specificity on bank rescue, Bill and Hillary Clinton were criticized for providing too much information about health care, and the critics are already sharpening their knives on the details of the 2010 budget.
My own view is that the president of the country is most effective when he lays out general principles and places specific plans and priorities within those general principles. Also, President Obama is involved in a massive effort to educate the public about what went wrong in the past and how we need to reconfigure our society. Too many details at this point are likely to cause disengagement on the part of the public and quibbling on the part of the Beltway partisans.
That said, in any health plan, the devil is sure to be in the details. And President Obama is ill advised to let the Congress hammer out the details. Both publicly and behind the scenes, he and his top aides need to be involved in the project and prodding it in desirable ways. And in addition to the substance of the plan, he and top aides have to be involved in the process of legislation. That is the major tragedy of the Daschle debacle -- the loss of a master legislator. Where is Lyndon Johnson when we need him?
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