February 11th, 2009
08:30 AM ET
5 years ago

Borger: Obama's presidency a balancing act

President Obama has chosen pragmatism over ideology as he has navigated the stimulus debate.
President Obama has chosen pragmatism over ideology as he has navigated the stimulus debate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It is not unusual for a presidential candidate to try to win friends and influence voters. That's what elections are about, so we tend to excuse political posturing when we see it - because we have come to expect a certain amount of it. Besides, we like people who pay attention to us.

But once a president becomes president, we expect other things. We expect him to keep his promises (particularly if we liked them). We expect action and decision. And, most of all, we expect to come to learn who he is, and where he really stands - by virtue of what he decides.

And what we've been watching over the last few weeks is just that: the very public development of a new president who is more pragmatic than ideological by nature, testing his instincts against the divided realities of Washington.

It's been a balancing act - in which we've seen President Obama as both cheerleader and Chicken Little, as a partisan Democrat and a bipartisan negotiator and, finally, as both an insider leading a well-worn Washington-dominated Cabinet and an outsider railing against Washington's business as usual.

In many ways, the deck has been stacked against the president's instincts: Washington hasn't been hospitable to bipartisanship for decades.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    You can rest assured that nothing is giving the GOP more pleasure than helping deflate the hope Obama gave so many millions of people.

    February 11, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Virginia

    No, it isn't a balancing act; it is a joke. He has all of his cronies hanging out on one side of the see-saw, along with all the pork of this so called stimulus bill, and us common people trying to get our side of the see-saw down. We are the losers in this case. Nothing is balanced in this administration......

    February 11, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. no corporate politics

    article: "new president who is more pragmatic than ideological by nature"

    translation: The whole Messiah thing was great for getting votes but now it is time do some payback for all the that PAC lobby money he got from banks, wall street, big oil and big insurance. Those bank CEO's will never get any serious trouble.

    Google for it – the CEO's banks are in the 100's of thousands of $$$$$ category on the feds own tracking data for Obama PAC money. Is this a different color green from the "lobby" money?

    February 11, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Deborah

    He is a Left Wing Nut Job wearing Training Pants!

    What did we expect?

    I was hoping we would not be completely destroyed, along with our future generations this soon!

    We may never recover from this complete Partisan Theft!

    February 11, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. Dan, TX

    More jobs will be lost, perhaps at an increasing rate for the next 6 to 12 months, that much is clear. The government intervention will start to reverse that trend, but wiil it be fast enough to keep the republicans for blaming everything on Obama and the democrats? (Of course not). Will it be fast enough to start to show enough effects to satisfy voters before the 2010 elections? It will be a close call.

    February 11, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. The Great Karnac

    Partisans please take a timeout and checkout "The American Tapeworm"by Catherine Fitts,to see where your money is really going.

    February 11, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Pelosinomics

    Obama does not have the experience or knowledge to get things done in Washington. I am not sure why people are so shocked that Obama is having serious issues less then a month in to his presidency. Obama is just a puppet for the democratic socialist agenda.
    Just look at the so called "Stimulus Plan"? The actually people who wrote this plan were Pelosi and Reed. Obama was told what was going to be in the plan, not asked. Its not Obamanomics its Pelosinomics.Obamas job is to try and convince the American people that buliding freesbie parks(Pork) is going to put people back to work and get the economy going again.

    February 11, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Joel

    Sure. Defend his political posturing. Write off all of his lies and excuse his inability to conduct himself in a bipartisan fashion. In the end, he'sexactly what we told you he was – a liberal, socialist, chicago-style politician whose only real plan is to borrow from the American people to pay off the constituents that helped him get elected.

    Just remember one thing as you watch this recession drudge on into a full blown depression – We warned you.

    February 11, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. RSR

    The headline should read: ......
    "Boger: Obama's Presidency The Ruination Of The American Nation".

    February 11, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. sjl

    Keep up the good work Mr. President. Nobody said it would be easy.

    February 11, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Karen

    President Obama,
    America has your back, God Bless You

    February 11, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Amanda

    So far President Obama has done exceedingly well. In spite of these old Republican farts.

    February 11, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Mary Owensby

    Gloria, you are absolutley right. President Obama has the deck stacked against him. You cannot tell me that with all the Republicans, except 3, who did not support the stimulus package that it was not about party lines. I don't care what President Obama does nothing will please the Republicans. They want this president to fail and that means for America to fail. That is very disturbing! Rush Limbaugh is an example of the sentiments the Republicans have for President Obama. If America does financially fail, I blame the Republicans not Prsident Obama. He is doing his part for our country – where are the Republicans?

    February 11, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. al in memphis

    In many ways, the deck has been stacked against the president's instincts: Washington hasn't been hospitable to bipartisanship for decades.
    ____________________________________________________

    And the end result is a broken government that has forgot it soley EXIST to represent the people. I don't want to hear another politician talk about Republican or Democratic party positions–I want to hear how it is in the best interest of the future of this country. Keep your politics for choosing who you play golf with.

    February 11, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Robert

    I completely disagree with your evaluation of President Obama.First of all he has had the moral strength and intellect to sift reality from BS. He has been honest to a fault. Determined in his initiative against a smal moronic group called Republicans who are hell bent on his failing even at the expense of our nation.I propose this. Any Republican who doesn't approve of the stimulus and cannot offer a implementable plan that excludes typical Republican rhetoric about "tax breaks" and "hypocritical spending cuts" with refrence to our future, we will not grant stimulus money, projects, nor work to that state. I know this may be unconstitutional but after Bush who cares right? In turn that states money will be dispensed proportionately to the remianing states who support the plan. For those Republicans who cannot understand this it's called putting your money where your big mouth is.Could we get a vote on this? I will be enternally grateful we have President Obama at the helm in this dangerous time rather than the incompetence of Bush and Co. Being pragamatic as opposed to ideological will serve this country far better than we have been served for the last 8 years!.

    February 11, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. M Jonah

    What a shame that the only WEAPON the Republicans know how to use is FEAR. Now they are putting fear and failure on their own and trying to ditant themselves from the TRUE PATRIOTIC REPUBLICANS WHO have agreed to vote THE RIGHT AND MOST SENSIBLE AND WISE WAY AND NOT JUST A MATTER OF VOTING WITH DEMOCRATS.

    I am surprised they have not LEARNT THAT IT IS THE SAME FEAR THAT KILLS THE CONFIDENCE OF PEOPLE AND IT ALWAYS LOOSES. Fortunately the COURAGEOUS WILL NOT SUBMIT TO FEAR BUT FIGHT ON.

    Did their parents ever thought them how to FIND THE MIDDLE GROUND when confronted with issue of choice and not always trying to throw a fit and lies to have your own way as CHILDREN?

    WELL I guess the above goes for both the democrats and the republicans who are playing immature in both houses of the American government.

    February 11, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. M Jonah

    I am surprised they have not LEARNT THAT IT IS THE SAME FEAR THAT KILLS THE CONFIDENCE OF PEOPLE AND IT ALWAYS LOOSES. Fortunately the COURAGEOUS WILL NOT SUBMIT TO FEAR BUT FIGHT ON.

    Did their parents ever thought them how to FIND THE MIDDLE GROUND when confronted with issue of choice and not always trying to throw a fit and lies to have your own way as CHILDREN?

    WELL I guess the above goes for both the democrats and the republicans who are playing immature in both houses of the American government.

    February 11, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Ray Fisher, Albuquerque, NM

    I'm hoping the stimulus will be a success and he can concentrate on repairing our nation instead of firefighting. He was not elected to fix the errors of the previous administration but to move us into a new direction yet he is swamped with failed history. Hopefully he can get back on course soon!!!

    February 11, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Mississippi Mike

    There's no balancing act here. He is executing his plan to change America to be a liberal, secular, highly centralized, socialist state. I don't agree with his politics but he was elected so I will live with his policies. I really wish he would just lay out his agenda instead of invoking flowery rhetoric and coded statements. People aren't going to know what he's selling them until it's too late for them to have a say, and that's not how a president is supposed to operate.

    February 11, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Spencer/Hampton Roads, VA

    I hear all this talk about how the president is trying to down talk the economy. If you ask me, he's telling the American people the truth. Something that we've been missing for the past 8 years. President Obama by far has the political capital to tell the people the truth. That's why he's the president.

    February 11, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Alice Fried

    Americans, Obama's election unleashed the validity of our voting power. Leverage it to help our President accomplish his goals. We cannot sit by and allow the Repbulicans and media actors marginalize the vision for our country that we voted for. Let's tilt the balance meter to what we voted for– Obama and his vision for our country. Write letters to Congress. Call them. Email them. Twitter. Blog. YouTube. Demonstrate. Let these elected officials know that we want the country Obama described on the campaign trail and we won't settle for anything less. Government of, by and for the people.

    February 11, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    @ Virginia

    Thank you for proving that GOPers who post here do not read the articles or understand them, but rather just read th eheadline and cook up some nasty drivel to spew about President Obama and the Democrats in congress.

    February 11, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. FAYE, NV

    Haters can never be satisfied, if you don't like the President it okay. To continue with hate does not make things better. For all you haters PLEASE LEAVE THE COUNTRY.

    February 11, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. ari from virginia

    Gloria,

    I think you're Correct. Good article.

    It has been rare that a president centers around WE THE PEOPLE rather then we the priviliged. This president has done just that in the 23 days he has been in office. Sad, the "losers of the elections" don't really want america to succeed even though their kind are supposedly "real americans".

    So far, I have seen a LEADER who keeps his focus on the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. He feels with the people, not just for the people.
    It is refreshing to see this man in action for our great nation.
    I wish him and my country the best.

    Thank you for point the balancing out.

    February 11, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. TyWebb

    I'd like to have a balancing act with Gloria Borger.

    February 11, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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