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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Limits of a silver tongue

Obama's biggest strength has been his cool head and resistance to the pressure to act impulsively without seriously weighing options and consequences. In a departure from the recent past, we now have a president who thinks it really does make sense, especially when the issues are important and serious, to look pretty carefully before leaping.

But if that is a big positive, the negatives are also real. He has proven tone-deaf to real public dissatisfaction over some of his most urgent agenda items, and the fallout may seriously limit his effectiveness, and his party's power, over the remainder of his presidency. He fails to understand how to effectively deploy his oratorical talents as a president rather than as a campaigner (i.e. speaking less often, limited to the weightier matters) and overestimates the ability of a silver tongue to reverse or squelch contrary opinion. And he risks losing real political clout if he continues to stick his nose into Democratic intra-party decision making (e.g. Senate race in Colorado, Senate and gubernatorial races in New York).

Bottom line: He is thoughtful on his approach to critical issues but still not fully aware of the very real differences between campaigning and governing nor of the limits of personal charm and rhetorical excellence.

By Mickey Edwards

 |  January 19, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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This nation was on the brink of collapse. We are wounded still, but not defeated. All this due to the "silver tongue."

I for one appreciate the power of the spoken word that initiates action.

Posted by: hakafos44 | January 19, 2010 9:18 PM
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