It is hard out there for a President

George Will:

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Not until the 33rd minute of Wednesday's 70-minute address did Obama mention health care. The weirdness of what he said made it worth the wait.

Acknowledging that the longer the public has looked at the legislation the less the public has liked it, he blamed himself for not "explaining it more clearly." But his faux contrition actually blames the public: The problem is not the legislation's substance but the presentation of it to slow learners. He urged them to take "another look at the plan we've proposed." The plan? The differences between the House and Senate plans are not trivial; they concern how to pay for the enormous new entitlement.

Last Feb. 24, with a grandiosity with which the nation has become wearily familiar, he said, "Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health-care reform in the last 30 days than we have in the last decade." He was referring to the expansion of eligibility to an existing entitlement -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program. But that expansion was minor compared to the enormous new Medicare entitlement for prescription drugs created under Obama's predecessor. Before the Massachusetts nuisance, this year's speech was to be a self-coronation of the "last" president to deal with health care.

Last Feb. 24, he said he had an activist agenda because of the recession, "not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't." Ninety-seven days later, he bought General Motors.

Wednesday night's debut of Obama as avenging angel of populism featured one of those opaque phrases -- the "weight of our politics" -- that third-rate speechwriters slip past drowsy editors. Obama seems to regret the existence in Washington of . . . everyone else. He seems to feel entitled to have his way without tiresome interventions in the political process by the many interests affected by his agenda for radical expansion of the regulatory state. Speaking of slow learners, liberals do not notice the connection between expansion of government and expansion of (often defensive) activities referred to under the rubric of "lobbying."

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Will seems to capture the essence of Obama's problems. He just does not deal well with those who disagree with him. I think in large part this is a function of a lack of executive experience. Everyone who has ever been in charge of a business or a government knows you sometimes have to reconcile differences of opinion on how to achieve certain objectives and sometimes whether they are worth achieving at all. I do not think Obama has ever had to deal with such issues in the past.

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