Salvaging Obama

A to-do list for a presidency in distress.

Comments: 190

  1. The GOP grabbed America by the top of the head and is dunking it under water. What *we all* need to do is:

    1. Congressional Progressive Caucus: Recruit progressives at the grassroots level, fund them, campaign for them. Start now
    2. Democrats: start campaign 2014 now
    3. Congressional Progressive Caucus: Put your foot down in the House and in the Senate. Take a page from the Tea Party rule book. Don't overdo it, but be a heck of a lot firmer than you have been in budget negotiations.
    4. Democratic-leaning PACs and other organizations, intensify issues-based campaigns with the specific purpose of promoting local and state candidates.
    5. Voters: still angry about the sequester, shutdown and near-disaster over the debt-ceiling? Stay with that angry feeling until your get to the voting booth next year.
    6. Voters: Stay informed. Watch the news. Keep your eye on Congress.
    7: Women voters: Angry about the War on Women, War on Obamacare, War on Women voters in Texas? Stay mad. Get even next year.
    8. Voters: Sick and tired of the daily barrage of news on this or that hateful statement by a GOP politician? Sick of birtherism? Stay sick and vote next year.

    No man is perfect. Obama certainly isn't perfect. No president has had to put up with the level of obstruction, attempts at nullification, personal attacks, as has President Obama. If voters want an end to forced austerity and a swing back to the middle, do what California did: get rid of the GOP. Life has gotten way better since.

  2. I wouldn't know about California. I left in 2006 when the taxes killed me. Of those that are left, the taxes are suffocating, the infrastructure is crumbling, and the unemployment is a disaster. And, you think California is a good example?

    No, the good example is Texas. Liberals hate to hear that. But, Texas has dynamic growth and tons of jobs. Sure, Liberals will argue that they are not all high paying jobs. So, a job is better than the dole.

  3. If life is so much better in Calif with Democrat party rule, why have more than 3MM middle class Californians fled the state since 1990?

    In fact, since 2005, far more Californians have turned Texan than the other way around: 183 Californians moved to Texas for every 100 Texans moving to California. Within the states, 120 people leave California for every 100 who enter.

    And if life is so much better in Calif with Democrat party rule, why does Calif lead the nation in poverty?

  4. Yeah, I will add few more:
    9. Declare Democratic Party the party of the nation; get angry, get uniforms and send party youth units to teach the Tea party a lesson
    10. Ban all other parties, particularly anyone which screams personal freedom, liberty or responsibility. You are either with us or against us
    11. Get people angry about War on Women, War on Obamacare, War on Organic Foods, War on Teachers Unions, etc.
    12. Make it illegal for poor kids in inner city to choose schools; They must stay in their public schools (choice of schools are for us!)
    13. Ban Fox News; make it obligatory to get all news from MSNBC; as a matter of fact form a Department of Information. Make sure voters stay informed in the right way

    No man is perfect, that is for sure, but our leader Barack Obama comes very close it. And yes follow California: one of the worst schools in the nation, one of the worst roads, second highest unemployment and highest taxes (including 10%+ sales tax in may counties, so helpful for the poor). Yeah!

  5. "Forget the Grand Bargain. Go for little bargains."

    I'm sorry, but even Michael Strain's "humble bargains" that Keller embraces give ground where none should be given. The safety net has been eroded long enough. The Social Security COLA is a measly joke as it is, without being cut any further.

    With the help of their purchased political allies, the super-rich have been helping themselves to an increasing share of the nations wealth and it's time they started to give back.

    It's obviously unrealistic given the makeup of Congress to expect any changes before January 2015, nationalizing the 2014 midterms is a must. The President and the Democratic Party (which he has treated as a separate interest group for much of his term) must unite on a pro-jobs program for the 2014 campaign: a financial transaction tax of, say, 0.25% (call it a tiny sales tax, which is what it would be) and taxing unearned income at the same rate as pay for one's labor. That would finance much-needed work on national housekeeping projects, reduce the deficit and ultimately cut the debt. Also, raise the income cap for Social Security contributions enough to secure the program and simultaneously allow the percentage contribution to be cut.

  6. I agree with you on Social Security contributions. But why just "raise the income gap for Social Security contributions . . . "? Why not remove it altogether? Just raising the cap preserves the present regressive nature of the payroll tax and gives the very top incomes a break that others don't get. Also, while we're at it, who not invoke Adam Smith, who believed that the rich should not only pay more taxes than others but also pay at a higher rate; and make the payroll tax a graduated tax.

  7. There are some good suggestions herein, especially those on infrastructure and the automatic stabilization policy. Clearly, the health care website has to be fixed, to restore confidence in the Administration's competence.

    My own sense is that Congressional polarization, not the Obama Administration, is the key factor in national malaise. It's unlikely that this will be healed until, at minimum, the Tea Party is weakened or eliminated and the two parties begin to cooperate in the national interest. A Democratic-controlled House and Senate would of course be a shot in the arm for the Obama White House.

    To date, Obama has done relatively little for the Democratic Party. A very important agenda item for the White House would be to raise funds for the Democratic Party to maximize Democratic chances in the 2014 midterm elections.

  8. The president now must get into campaign mode. 2014 must be made into a national election. Two hopeful signs are that Team Obama was at work in Virginia keeping turnout high and the president's trip to Texas touting the ACA. He and Biden must go into those purple states and any marginal district. They must campaign on the ACA or they risk the results of 2010 being repeated.

  9. In other words what you want from your man is just what the Tea Party wants from theirs: sit on everything, raise money, and see what happens after the next election.
    Why not? It's worked so well so far.

  10. Did you not find it interesting that the economy IMPROVED during the "partial government shutdown?"
    Maybe there's a lesson to be learned there?

  11. First, I'll give him credit where it's due: he didn't bomb Syria, and he isn't likely to bomb Iran.

    Now for my suggestions. Tell Harry Reid: No more pussy-footing around on the filibuster. Invoke the nuclear option pronto, or kiss your confirmations goodbye.

    Re the ACA: pull a Lara Logan and admit that you, and most importantly we, have been scammed by the predatory insurance cartel. Start talking the public option. I know, I know..... it's a pipe dream, but at least set the stage, and maybe inspire the more disenchanted voters to show up at the polls, both next year and in 2016.

    Speak up for the poor. Demand a restoration of the food stamp cuts. Stop blaming a generic "Congress" and start actually naming some GOP names. Start with Ted Cruz.

    Pull the chain on Chained CPI and flush it. Support Sen. Tom Harkin's Strengthen Social Security bill, which would actually add $70 a month to the average monthly check:

    Make public the negotiations of both the Transatlantic and Trans-Pacific "trade" pacts, which are actually disguised corporate coups. Let Congress and the people see what you're plotting, and I can almost guarantee that these horrible deals will be stopped in their tracks.

    Stop the drone attacks. Thank Ed Snowden. Pardon Chelsea Manning.

  12. Completely all right. Karen Garcia for President!

    Since I'm a long-time consultant to performers as well as a 'systems therapist', I would suggest -- strongly -- that Obama, and Valerie Jarrett or whomever is close behind him telling him what to do, decide to employ an attitude of openness and honesty when admitting to glitches such as the ACA website, and the illegal (Constitution! ) bugging of Americans -- and do it within one day! Being slow to acknowledge and apologize for mistakes sends a message of guiltiness and makes the president appear to have a weak character. Everybody knows that when someone takes sincere responsibility for errors , and sincerely apologizes, and clearly states the state of things, he/she seems bigger, a mensch. You can trust such a person. His ratings are low because you can't trust him.

    Valerie Jarett may be an enabler on the side of less-than-optimal character: she was reported a couple of years ago to cancel a luncheon speech she was going to give pleading 'an emergency'. A reporter who was covering the cancelled speech then saw her at a local restaurant -- having lunch. If this is an example of her character, and if she really does influence the president as much as has been reported, it may be that replacing her with a grown-up would allow Barack Obama to grow up.

  13. Karen Garcia said it all...well almost all.

    A flat tax on income would cover social security payments forever and eliminate such nonsense as chained CPI. (Does anyone remember when the notion of a flat tax was considered right wing?)

    Also, it would help to end Clinton's concession to big business when he allowed bonuses to be called necessary business expense rather than exorbitant salaries that could be taxed.

  14. Karen Garcia,I totally agree with your comments. We liberals and progressives need a short statement of our minimum demands, and your list sounds like a good starting point.

    Next, I would add taxing inheritance and capital gains at the same rate as equivalent earned income, instead of the much lower rate that is now collected.

    I plan to start a semi-humorous run for President to publicize these ideas. Suggested platforms for the most liberal 51% of people who actually vote would be welcome.

    The subject is definitely appropriate for the NY Times op-ed page. Thanks, Bill Keller, for starting the long overdue discussion.

  15. Careful about that pivot to China. We do not need another Cold War.

    We must not deliberately, artificially, create a "reason" for a Cold War level Defense Dept budget.

  16. I'd pose a slightly different question, how do we salvage the United States? Then work backwards from there to come up with a task list for our current public and private leadership at all levels.

    Education. We need to stop making excuses and start raising expectations for students, teachers, parents and teaching colleges. Then maybe our business leaders will hire more of those already here to to fill the best jobs rather than clamoring for more immigrants.

    Work. We need to make low wage industries pay their own way with a national minimum wage rather than relying on government assistance for their full time workers. We also need to bring CEO and worker compensation closer together or risk the fate of great companies like International Harvester at the hands of arch destroyer CEO Archie McCardell.

    Infrastructure. How about redeploying part of the extra $400+ billion we spend every year on Defense related programs since Bush took office? That would pay for reversing the woeful state of our national infrastructure, maybe even high speed rail along high density corridors to ease air congestion.

    Health Care. We need to cut the $2.5+ trillion we spend on health care by half to get to the average of other OECD countries. The citizens of countries like Germany have the same diet and health issues we do but manage to spend less than half what we do for better outcomes.

    Or we could just complain about the President and the Congress.

  17. Businesses clamor for more immigrants because immigrants are cheaper. Businesses do not pay living wages in low wage industries. Businesses buy most of the health insurance purchased in this country, but have been unable to keep health costs from going up because they complained every year but never really tried. They would have had to break ranks with their fellow businessmen.

    The barrier to much of the salvage work we need to do is the business community.

  18. sdavidc9 Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

    Everyone hates big business until it comes time to examine the relations between the business lobby and their own political party's leaders. Then, they put on their blinders and find someone else to go after, like the Tea Party, which is a direct competitor of the business lobby for influence over the GOP.

    Democrats hate big business only when they can associate it with the GOP. When the democratic president invites Pharma professionals in to write pieces of his signature legislation, they switch to their other parlor trick, which is to paint him as a victim of GOP aggression.

    I don't recall republican legislators forcing the president to invite industry executives into the White House.

  19. We need to get rid of the robber baron corporate plutocrat welfare embedded in our income tax code and allowed by no regulation.

    We need to send some of then to prison for their deceptive fraudulent greedy incompetent business practices.

  20. Republicans do not want to do bargains at all. They feel about Obama the way the old school Florida refugees from Cuba feel about Castro. They are not interested in a competition with Obama where the final result is more to their liking than Obama's. They want victory and are excited enough to do extreme things without any strategy for taking advantage of their extreme deeds.

    What the country needs is government by the Democratic party for a few years. There is enough diversity in the Democratic party that we will have consensus, compromise, and negotiation to get things done. When the Republicans come to their senses they can rejoin the process of government.

  21. What are you talking about? The country HAS "government by the Democrat Party." That's the problem.

  22. There is NO diversity in the Democratic Party. The party of ideas right now is the Republican party.

  23. President Obama can't salvage anything. He was a rather lame duck to begin with and grows lamer by the week. To salvage anything he' would have to change his approach. He would have to assume greater leadership on the issues and not let his opposition write the agenda. He would have to have a more forceful and moving personality and not merely preside. He would have to inspire voters rather than instruct them. He squandered his opportunities in his first term and never learned how to lead. Many readers of the NY Times urged him to grow a spine but he never did. The man is clearly out of his depth and his cumulative lack of leadership has been devastating for both his party and his country.

  24. Sorry, but Obama is who he is--an intelligent and reasonable man who wants to do what's best for the country; and he expects all other elected representatives to be the same.
    He's not going to turn into "give em hell, Harry" Truman.
    Unfortunately, the future doesn't look any better for the Democrats, since the two people who are considered front runners for the next presidential election, Clinton and Davis, will face even worse prejudice and stronger opposition.
    One could get into trouble for saying, "He can't be allowed to govern because he's black", but there is no such prohibition against saying,"She can't govern because she's a woman."

  25. Much of what is said is true, but I have more hope.

    The "Community Organizer" needs to become a warrior for the common good and rally the nation as Roosevelt did in the 1930s, of which there are some parallels: Roosevelt's signature legislation, the Social Security Act had passed and was under attack. Roosevelt was able to rally the nation and go on to successful second, and third terms.

  26. ........ and he's the best we could do. romney, ryan, mccain, palin? i shudder.

  27. Extraordinary list Mr Keller; indeed a menu of incredible deals; posing the question; why? The administration has failed to lead the nation and is now mired in the debacle of Obamacare, a failed Congress, foreign policy malaise, unemployment as a way of life; education in Camden, NJ, where just 25% of students graduate from High School, and a burgeoning national debt, our gift to our descendants.

    The "natural clustering of like minded voters" which concerns you, is simply the natural result of like minded success and attainment. The concern you express for the future is shared by all Americans; the problem is that you, and a majority of The New York Times audience, feel that this failed government structure is the solution to the problem.

    As Obamacare has amply demonstrated thus far, government does not at any level, attract the best and the brightest. During WWII, the best and the brightest served as volunteers as $ a year men, to construct the greatest administration apparatus ever assembled to defeat our enemies on two fronts, world wide. That same expertise is available today to fix the dreadful condition of the nation and the frightening future to which we are headed.

    It is long past time that we as a nation, pause for a moment, then resolve to assemble these gifted people in our nation to begin the enormous task of beginning to solve the list of problems, with which you, and I, are concerned.

    The US has reached the point of no return; it is past time to act.

  28. Yes, the nation is "mired" in a "failed Congress."

    That is not Obama's doing.

    That is a tantrum by Republicans, who won't govern at all if they can't have everything totally their way. They are acting like spoiled two year olds with our national interests. That may be giving them too much credit; they may just be doing it to us out of the purest cynicism and hatred for all of us but their tiny percentage of donors.

    Those of the rest of your complaints that are true are largely the fault of that Republican behavior.

    In particular, the foreign policy "malaise" is the Republicans who take politics beyond the waters' edge, putting their partisan advantage above our international relations, being destructive of our foreign policy just because Obama is President.

    Where Obama has made his own mistakes, it is from being too much like Bush, and not what we were promised.

  29. Yes, and instead we have to contend with circus clowns like Cruz and Palin. Boehner is a dead loss as far as leadership goes. If the best and the brightest shy away from politics, we are forever doomed to suffer at the hands of incompetent nincompoops at the helm. Obama has good instincts but is a much better campaigner than President. I fear that as a nation we are a sinking ship with no life boats aboard.

  30. Surely this writer knows that the estimable Mr. Halberstam used the term "best and brightest" ironically. Brilliance is often confused with wisdom, and Mr. Barrett must know this. So why dredge up this tired ode to the good old days? I was there and they were not.

  31. The one thing that will revive President Obama is a functioning health care system and millions of people signed up with lower premiums.

    He's been campaigning on this for years. He has to deliver. Pivoting to yet another campaign, especially immigration, will not rescue him at this point.

  32. add to this a delaying of penalties for every day the government website remains broken. people of all political stripes feel (know) that those who write the rules are immune from the consequences of their actions or inaction. a delay would be a sign, how ever small, that he has some concern for the average person.

  33. Obama's failed presidency does not merit resuscitation. Keller writes within the prevailing political-societal context, hence advocating for cosmetic surgery which fails to address the fundamental problems. In fact he endorses what deserves instead critical analysis. Health insurance? Beyond glitches, what of substance? Obama actively rejected not only single-payer but also public option (fighting hard for the first would have allowed settling on the second). As it stands, insurers are the beneficiaries AND states have opportunity for distorting still further an antipeople program.

    Too, Trans-Pacific Partnership. Keller, not a word on its militaristic implications (and that of the related Pacific-first strategy). In fact when he writes, "to counter burgeoning China," he accepts the dangerous policy of isolating, containing, confronting China--WHY? Must US global hegemony be written in stone? The US seeks still unilateral dominance in what has become a multipolar world. Do we have the right to attack others because of their success?

    Finally, not a word of criticism on mass surveillance at home (with its grave implications for civil liberties, leading down the path to totalitarianism) and eavesdropping abroad. WHY? Add to that armed drones for targeted assassination, the targets personally selected and authorized by Obama. How omit mention of this moral vacuum. Fire Clapper, fine. What of Brennan, Rice, etc.? Obama surrounds himself with war vultures.

  34. Ouch!

    Obama brought in Wall Street lackey economic team Clinton. Summers, Geithner, Emanuel, Daley, Orszag with Rubin pulling the strings.

    There are 1.6 billion Muslims. Only 15% of them are Shia and only 20% are Arabs.

    There are only 140 million Russians and 127 million Japanese. Both nations are aging and shrinking

    There are 1.3 billion Chinese in China and 400 million out side of China. About 20% of the human race. China holds American bonds. Chinese make many goods Americans crave very cheaply.

  35. The way for Obama to retrieve his mojo is to take a hard left. He was elected in the first place because he pretended to be a progressive. The pols have always shown it, but the media backed by multinationals is not in the mood to give up its nonsense, especially the stuff about Social Security and Medicare. It's time to expand those programs, not cut them back, and raise the minimum wage while at it. Raising revenue is necessary, plus his original campaign proposals of big stimulous and alternative energy and I DON"T mean fracking (that destroys our commons of clean water and farmland) or dangerous to transport liquified gas in old infrastructure for the world market, as if that is going to take care of main street and the trade deficit. We need single payer. It will pay off the deficit. NAFTA should go…a lot of treaties are distructive to Americans. We need employment and opportunity, and that doesn't mean a dubious Trans Pacific Trade deal that benefits multinationals again at the expense of people's choices from not wanting to eat GMO's to the denigration of our free and neutral internet. He could close the privatized prisons, the CIA, the NSA and rout out the corporate insiders that control our government. The tail wagging the dog of our economy are rules that benefit the biggest only. Corporations should have their charters revoked until they show they benefit the stake holders and not just the shareholders. That alone would change the entire atmosphere of our society.

  36. Amazing. Every left wing trope in on paragraph. Obama please please take her advice. And throw in some union freebies

  37. Obama needs to find his backbone on Wall Street reform and disband NSA immediately. I am certain his approval rating will rise for at least 25 points.

  38. Most of these are reasonable. Clapper should have gone a long time ago. Immigration and ENDA, both of which have passed the Senate, should be brought to a vote in the House, and Obama should double down on the House Democrats to force this issue. Mr. Keller's advice on foreign policy is too much military policy, which is not the same thing. And, with no direct stake in elections any more, Obama can go all out in 2014 for what remains of his agenda.

    Oh, and while he's at it, he should rethink the policies that Mr. Clapper has been so mendaciously defending.

  39. No, it's too late. When Obama had his near-death experience was when people should have voted for Romney, which would have been better for foreign policy (Iran and Russia, which has exploited both Syria and Snowden). You don't mention Russia, it's a major challenge and threat still.

    Better yet, we should have had Hillary and not Obama, and the leftists trying to push the country too hard toward socialism should have been batted away. We still have a chance to re-visit that moment in 2016 of course, it means 3 years of this mess of an unchangeable Obama doing damage.

    You can't mention the cyber-threat of China, and then blame Clapper, who after all, was driven into his position by Snowden's outrageous crimes. Clapped did not lie, because the NSA does not compile individual dossiers to spy on individual Americans unlawfully. Dredging of meta data is not spying with intent and meaning on individuals. And that's why Clapper answered automatically as he did, but because *Congress* thought it was misleading, he rightly came back and explained it better and acknowledged it was misleading.

    Clapper should remain right where he is, and dig out from Snowden. Snowden is the problem, and Russia and others exploiting it, not him. Obama should show leadership by praising the NSA for doing a hard job, reprimanding Snowden for destroying relations with allies with half-truths and misleading claims, and standing by determination that he be returned to face justice.

  40. But how was it possible for Snowden to abscond with all that evidence without anyone noticing? Did he have helpers or sympathizers within the system, which also failed to discover the Times Square (would-be) bomber; and why did the intelligence services ignore tips from Russia about the Tsarnaev brothers? Where does the buck stop? In real life, heads would roll after such blunders.

  41. How is it that you could suggest firing Clapper but not Sebelius? She should be at the very top of the list of potential firings. She is incompetent and obviously not up to the task of handling the ACA in general or fixing

    Obama should also fire all of his closest advisers. There are too many yes men in and around the White House, and incompetence runs amuck.

  42. The US federal debt along with failed fed QE policy that does nothing but widen the incredible income gap between the 1% and the 99% is the most serious US problem. If these issues are not corrected in the next year or so, the US dollar will lose its reserve status and social strife will paralyze, demolish what's left of what once was the world's most vaunted economy.

  43. If Obama must fire James Clapper because he lied, shouldn't that mean Obama must also fire himself for lying that millions of Americans could keep their health insurance?

  44. This comment is off base. Those 5% who "lost their insurance" had deficient policies which did not meet even minimal standards for healthcare coverage.

  45. With that thought the entire Bush administration should have been fired.

  46. The pure joy I felt the night he won in 2008 was a once in a lifetime experience. He has squandered every opportunity he has had since that night, starting with Rahm Emanual. He seems a decent man with good intentions but I'm just fresh out of optimism. Hillary can be a bridge, but we need leadership, not pointless compromise.

    The religious nuts and the crazy conservatives will become less and less powerful as they age out and reason takes hold in youth, the real threat is corporations.

  47. Seems you are saying Obama is exactly what those "religious nuts and crazy conservatives" warned us about. Nice guy. Excellent speaker. But not ready to be President. When those nuts and crazies die out, who's going to warn us then?

  48. Michael Strain may often speak sense to conservatives, but there is no reason to expect that even the most sensible argument would sway the current GOP.

    There are two obstacles to the "little bargains" strategy: "establishment" Republicans will not agree to anything that could be construed as a victory for President Obama--as Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann have been emphasizing for years--and the more extreme wing of the GOP refuses to bargain about anything. Tea Party Republicans have a distorted view of what governance means. They believe it means staking out an ideological position in order to appeal to a narrow constituency, and repeating the position over and over again without even giving the appearance of trying to accomplish anything. To them, accomplishment = compromise, and compromise is the worst sin imaginable.

    So under the circumstances, the only solution is to nationalize the 2014 elections and unseat as many Republicans as possible. And the goal isn't to "salvage" the president's approval ratings, or Congress's. The stakes are a lot higher than that.

  49. Perhaps, like Google, Obama should have left the caveat "beta" next to his Presidency -- to signal that it was not ready for prime time. I say this having been a strong supporter from the start. I appreciate the notion that he might pivot to some winnable projects, but I fear his time has passed. From here out he'll be damaged goods and will likely we subtly shunned by friends and foes alike, both at home and abroad.

  50. I knew he was inexperienced when I voted for him the first time. I hoped, that he'd bloom in office, find his mettle and emerge as a strong and effective leader. Two of our greatest Presidents, FDR and Lincoln started out ineffectively and went on to achieve resounding successes.

    When I voted for him the second time I thought knew what we'd be getting. He's been even worse and more ineffective than my pessimistic expectations. And yet, given the choice we had before us, I do not regret that vote. However, I do wish I'd voted for Hillary when I had the chance.

  51. George Schultz, Secretary of State under Reagan, and proponent of The Bush Doctrine, called for James Clapper to resign because: "He lied".


  52. Great column all the way around.

    Definitely, Mr. Clapper needs to leave. He completely lacks credibility and I seriously doubt if meaningful review and reform can be conducted under his management. The NSA and the entire intelligence community, for that matter, need to be administered and reviewed by a skilled manager from outside the defense and intelligence business and culture. Mr. Clapper -- a product of that culture -- is incapable of seeing the IC through new, clear eyes. It's time that the IC actually had to justify its roles and systems in the same way that employees have to justify their jobs in private industry.

    After the great national security expansion of the 00's, we need a downsizing.

  53. Let's get one thing straight. The Presidency is an office headed by a person with 22 direct reports and an office with some 1,400 to 2,200 staff. It's not one brain and one person.

    The operation is supposed to ride herd on each agency that is our government to make sure each is sailing on the right course based on the current tide and winds and any storm that might be brewing.

    At the same time the opposition party runs a huge propaganda engine which breeds division and prejudice among its coalition groups so that we have red states and blue states and legislators elected to state houses and our Congress who are not qualified to study problems and produce laws and programs that are best-practice solutions. These could never use their resumes to get a job.

    Look at the theatrical production of the Defund Obamacare movement by Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz. Look at the evening stories on the Fox opinion programming channel which systematically produce a distorted picture of government trying to move forward and solve problems.

    The Republican Party has laid siege to our government agencies which are set up to help us not hurt us. The pre-Affordable Care Act healthcare system was not sustainable and a new system was needed. We need a Jobs bill and an infrastructure building program.

    We fundamentally need to radical-proof the future of our country. The the big question really is how do we combat the terrible and incompetent leadership of the GOP?.

  54. You need to read the Constitution.

  55. We have a democrat president and a democrat led Senate. Yet you say it is all the republicans fault. Logic, obviously, is not your strong point.

  56. Regarding what the President must do with respect to ACA:

    The problem with the ACA is not software, it is that it is just the most recent manifestation of the Frankensteinian health-care system to which we Americans are subject. The current spate of problems was inevitable when the goal was to reduce the cost of health care while retaining the state-based, employer-based Rube Goldberg private insurance system.

    Yes, without a doubt Obamacare is an incremental improvement to the current indentured servitude in which we able-bodied and not so able-bodied Americans are trapped so that we might keep alive and in good health an insurance industry that provides NO value-added to our health-care system.

    The problem is that we cannot afford both the incremental improvement and the continued existence of the parasitic health-insurance industry.

    The only way to improve this is to eliminate state-based, employer-based, private health-insurance altogether with single payer Medicare for all.

    It is time for the President to fess up to the fundamental error of believing that his added appendage to the American health care monster does not make the monster sufficiently humane. The President (and the Democrats) needs to focus like a laser to rectify the fundamental problem, but I doubt this will happen.

  57. in my nightmare they don't really fix the website but make a small improvement declare victory and start sending out the penalty notices right on time.

  58. Another supportive article from the Times and many, many comments saying the problem is the conservatives doing this or that. But, while in some isolated, philosophic sense many of the comments here are apropos, they have no bearing on their presidency or its salvation.

    Let me pose a question. If it turns out that the health care law is a "bad thing" ultimately, what has this president accomplished in his tenure? Krugman would argue that Obama saved the economy, but there are far fewer people employed in full time jobs than before his election and economic growth is languid at best. The country's debt has doubled and what have we gotten for it? Then, there is Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the IRS intimidation, the NSA spying expansion, and the ACA.

    Other than making Democrats feel good in some way, what has this president actually accomplished? Why should his presidency be salvaged? I would suggest that, if the result of the ACA is anything like the government estimates 93-129 million people losing their insurance plans and where the replacement plans are more expensive, are those receiving notices ever going to turn positive on the president? Of course not.

  59. It's not the rollout of the health care that has been bungled. It is the fact that 5% of Americans are becoming "radically transformed" in their health insurance. Maybe that is after all a good thing but that was not what was promised and unfortunately Obama is stuck with this bill the rest of his presidency.

    The one bright spot in the energy business has been low cost natural gas allowing us to outcompete Europe. But the US will be unable to prevent climate catastrophes on its own with the rapid growth of chinese coal plants over the next two decades.

    So the energy legacy may add up to inadequate and more expensive electrical generation. This too might become politically unpopular with time.

  60. Mr Keller does not go nearly far enough by advocating firing the lying James Clapper.

    Obama needs to understand the issue he got wrong when he reversed his promise to filibuster the Telecom Immunity Act.

    Obama needs to admit that Snowden has done our country a great service, epitomizing the good that whistleblowers can do, especially since even Obama has reportedly learned appalling things the NSA was doing that even he was unaware of. He needs to explain to Americans mislead by "terrorists under the bed" political exploitation that, under the guise of building a surveillance system to "protect Americans" against a threat that is an insignificant cause of American injury and death, the NSA instead built a system that threatens our democracy - one that can trace the contacts of every individual decrying the policies of a particular administration, hindering the correcting forces of an antagonized citizenry. And he needs to see that this system is not just outlawed but that it is destroyed.

    And I'll reinforce Karen Garcia's other issues: 1) stop the drone attacks (can you imagine what it would be like to live in an American city often under attack from missiles hunting people their operators believed might be allied with terrorist causes? Operators claiming that all bystanders - including rescue workers deliberately struck by a second missile - killed by such attacks are by default labeled material supporters of terrorism?); and 2) commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning.

  61. Clapper should not only be fired but also indicted, tried and imprisoned for his perjury. Perjury by any government official should be considered to be the functional equivalent of treason and punished accordingly.

  62. President Obama campaigned on change and his changes and ideas got caught up in the intricacies of politics and a Congress that never respected his position. Whenever time he tried to reach out he was received with a stone wall. I don't remember the congress man name, but the one that said that he would do anything to stop President Obama's agenda succeeded and the Dem's in congress were not able to stop him and others. The main thing on this list to achieve is to get the healthcare reform to work. That will be his legacy. As soon as this is done, President Obama will be in a better position to complete the rest, with immigration as #2, tackle the financial bargains on baby steps, and, yes, to nationalize mid term elections. We need a congress of compromise.

  63. Bill Keller ignores the role of news media, in order to pretend that a president has green lantern powers, that he can turn on like a light switch.

    Keller also pretends that administration errors have given Republicans license to undermine Obamacare, while feigning indignation. He ignores that only the press can grant such license, legitimacy for the discredited, or squander reform efforts and champion distractions.

    Only the news media can pretend that replacing a bad apple fixes the military industrial complex, that any administration can move an unmovable opposition, or ultimately win by losing (so long as that adminstration loses on an issue that the news media promises to continue to plug).

    If any of Keller's claims worked as he pretends, money couldn't prop up so many indefensible programs. Karen Garcia's comment lists a few illustrative policies.

    How much longer can news media (and donor representing politicians) convince voters that there is nothing to see in Mann and Ornstein, Sides and Varvrek, Media Matters, Propublica, blogistan, or the comments on these editorials?

    Concern trolling for vested interests is not public debate of policy making, despite news media pretenses of offering it, while baldly promoting favored interests, as any purchased pol.

  64. Given the current mood in the country, the time is right to take a hard look at military spending. This should be key part of any "bargain".

    It will take great political courage, since military pork is in every state. Military bloat and waste are at an all time high. "Right sizing" is needed. This a task best performed by a lame duck president who has little to lose.

    The decay of our infra-structure, educational system, social safety net, etc. Is a greater security threat than outside factors. Obama needs to use his bully pulpit to champion this important task.

  65. One thought on the healthcare rollout: use the last digest of the social security number to reduce the pressure on the system by 50%. Even number on even days, odd numbers on odd number days of the month. No miss no fuss nor congressional involvement.

  66. In addition to my reply to Karen Garcia, below, my strongest current exhortation to President Obama is that, instead of having him run around in the background making half-hearted comments on things he's been attacked for and playing golf with shallow celebrities, he needs to strongly and daily attack any and all of the egregious, immoral and economically-damaging cuts to food-stamps. By doing the right thing, wholeheartedly, his poll numbers might indeed go up and he might thereby get back some cache with the sectors that matter: internationally, Democrats, liberals and good-sense Republicans, that is, most everbody.

    And, by doing the right thing for vast numbers of people and for the economy by convincing the public and their representatives to not cut food stamps he most certainly will bolster his own spirit: by now he must be exhausted.

  67. President Obama might start with Change You Can Believe In.

    He was right in 2004. The only Red States and Blue States are the ones created by the highly sophisticated propagandistas.

    If the President would come to the country with a grand vision for the future, Americans would still flock to his banner.

    Business as usual is just going to result in the same leadership vacuum we've had since the first day of his Presidency.

    Obama is first and foremost a pragmatist. He thinks he sees around corners where others don't even know there's a bend in the road.

    But with his lighter than air managerial resume, he turned over running the government to former Clintonites. Who gave him Clinton politics, which is right of center Republican light goals and objectives.

    Obama doesn't have the big vision to do any of the above.

    The road to a real recovery starts and ends in the Oval.

    That's the way it is.

    Ranting about how the Dems can retake the House flies in the face of all the effective work done by ALEC and their funders.

    The President needs to be big and bold.

    Would that it might be so.

  68. interesting......" clinton politics", as you call therm,were a refuge for bill when he could achieve nothing any other way. they were obama's first gambit...... the clintonites are only the pieces on the chess board and there has been no strong hand to play the game.

  69. Interesting to see Mr. Keller recognize the disasterous situation of President Obama. But his suggestions for success ignore the issue of the President. There is not a single criticism of how President Obama does his job. Just problems in the results.

    As to the suggestions, they are mostly normal liberal orthodoxy. No creativity. Let's spend more on pre-school education (no attempt to judge if it works). Let's get more democrat votes by immigration reform. That deal with Syria is promising [yeah, trust the Syrians to comply]. Ditto on Iran. We can trust them.

    Then, with the democrats jumping ship and running from the disaster of Obamacare, let's nationalize the 2014 elections -- that will work.

    It is hard for me to see how Obama has any success over the next three years. Maybe he will get lucky on some foreign policy issue. But the problem is that President Obama was not qualified to be president. He has not reached out to Congress as president. He has not been honest and does not seem to be an honest man. So, I don't see any actions that are likely to help him over the next three years. Maybe if the republicans hold both the house and senate, he will be forced to compromise and strike deals.

  70. I believe you grossly distort Obama's actual record. In foreign affairs and fighting terrorists, he has gone after Al Queda, Osama is gone, the Iraq war ended, the other one is winding down, and we have not gone on any foreign misadventures costing human treasure.. However it happened Syrian chemical weapons are being destroyed, Obama is at least trying on the Middle Eastern issues for which no one has an answer and he has reasserted US interests in Asia in an effort to generate further trade and economic growth.

    Domestically, you just forget the Great Recession and the fact that he prevented it from being far worse, and that the economy is recovering with steady job growth over four years in the face of fierce and partisan opposition from the do-nothing Republicans, including savage cuts at the state level. They have blocked a jobs bill and immigration reform, both of which are sorely needed to get the economy moving, and they have had NO ideas to spur growth except the demonstrably false trickle down philosophy. Indeed, the wealth disparity in the US is staggering and shameful.

    What do the Republicans propose? On anything? They have no ideas and no desire to cooperate on anything. Their entire goal is to have Obama fail at whatever he proposes. Better to bring down the President even if it means bring down the country than to let the President succeed at anything. The government shutdown is the perfect example of this political terrorism in action.

  71. There will be no deals, no bargains, no nothing since we are approaching silly season ( do we ever leave it) when politics subsumes governance. The best strategy for the President is the one that Mr. Keller mentions and that is for the President to position the issues that expose the dysfunctional and radical nature of the Republican Party and their inability to govern.

    The divided government has led to gridlock and more vacation time for a work challenged, unproductive Congress otherwise known as underemployed, part time but well compensated legislators.

    I believe that Bill omits one issue that the President should emphasize or bring out front and center; poverty in America. He should go on a tour of poverty pockets to demonstrate how his initiatives on immigration reform, job training and for an Infrastructure Bank could begin to alleviate the needless suffering of the poor in a wealthy country when there are ample resources to make their lives better including the President's health care law.

    We need a WPA type program to fix the infrastructure and create imaginative initiatives to put people to work. This would be much to the dismay of the Republican Party whose sole goal is the make sure America doesn't work on the President's watch.

  72. Congress-proof the Economy by abolishing the Jobs mandate for the Federal Reserve and make charging real market interest, having a stable dollar, and closing and liquidating bankrupt institutions of ALL kinds - banks, others in finance, corporations regardless of how large, pension funds, insurers, states, counties, cities and individuals - the cornerstone of prosperity.

    Require all commitments whether pensions, healthcare, or anything else to be entirely funded or entirely defaulted, but not in the least unfunded, within 15 years. Do the same with the federal budget: so that within 15 years it is then and forever more balanced across the general economic cycle.

    Flatten the income tax to one rate and eliminate ALL deductions exemptions and preferences. ALL.

    Abolish public programs. Replace the income maintenance ones with a Negative Income Tax cash payment system. Fund this with a Value Added Tax. Abolish the others also and replace with vouchers.

    Require actual significant individual financial damages before lawsuits can be filed. Limit class action suits and pain/suffering awards. Provide financial disincentives for communities that persist in subdivided tax bases, restrictive zoning, and excessive regulation of developments and of trades. Abolish all tariffs and trade quotas. End subsidized lending for single family homes and for college educations.

  73. Thank you for bringing in Churchill's " jaw-jaw, not war-war." We need a laugh after this depressing if realistic column!

    It's nice to hear that deficits and social sec/medicare are not the awful threats the gop has hysterically warned us of. What a relief. Also the baby boom is a big cohort--the next generations will be much smaller.

    Er, can we have a column some time, Mr. Keller on raising the cap on Soc Security taxes from it's absurdly low level? Before we talk about even distant problems?

    Experts say there is a coming crisis in retirement, due to replacing pensions with 401ks, plus stagnant wages and layoffs/ It's impossible to save enough for retirement. This has been discussed in the Times op ed page by experts, and in a PBS Frontline show recently aired.

    Therefore Soc Security and Medicare benefits should be raised, not lowered, and we could do it if taxes were more progressive.

    I wonder how much excess profits resulted for companies from dumping their traditional employee guaranteed pensions? That change came from the same influences that started financial deregulation, that ended up crashing the economy in 08.

    I wonder if they put those profits toward congressional campaign donations? Thus ensuring ever lower tax rates, leading to even higher net profits? Starting virtuous cycles for them, vicious cycles for the masses.
    Obama should explain this chain of causation and then start a reverse cycle for millions of future retirees.

  74. Agree, raise the cap on social security taxes

  75. My suggestion--Obama should publicize the workings of Massachussets health care that seems to be working as a positive example to the public. Then copy it's best features. Find various citizens using the plan from different income levels and situations, and have them interviewed on TV. Put them in ads. Let them explain to other Americans how they pay for and use their health care in various health situations---like birth of child, regular check ups, serious illness, etc--a whole range-- with 3 generations in a family.

    Then, if not too radical--we don't want to alarm anyone-- pick just a few from the 33 nations across the globe with generations long health systems accepted by millions of citizens. Canada started their health systems in 1966, and is just over the border. Many Times reader comments say it works very well.

    Use real people examples as counterparts of Americans. On TV, have Q&A between users of working health systems and American families, putting questions and concerns directly to them. After various comparisons have been well publicized and digested, see what opinion polls show. Positive examples are more persuasive than negative tales of woe.

    The rw gop obstructionists will find that harder to argue against--it would be reality based evidence--which threatens them the most.

  76. The Republican party itself is the only hope to get rid of obstructionist tea party lawmakers. Given the Republican gerrymandering resulting from their 2010 election victories, asking the president or any other democrat to extensively campaign against the tea party is a lost cause. On the other hand for democrats to use every opportunity to say what they are in favor of, for example, improving social security and paying for it by removing the cap, will strike a responsive chord in the 50 to 60 set. (Not a demographic currently offering much support.)

    There are some signs that responsible republicans are beginning to recognize that a dysfunctional government has become a problem for them. Citizens and the media wanting an operational government must support republican efforts to rid the government of their own radical members.

    It's our best hope.

  77. 'Salvaging Ourselves' and supporting the President-elect of the USA would be more to the point. During the greatest U.S. recession ever, we are just beginning to see real damage around us, impacting on the majority of us in ways to be determined. The Middle Class is in danger, the necessary bridge to prevent the ever-widening gap between the Rich and the Poor. The more fortunate to support our People in ways that we can, while standing behind this Presidency now and today. Mr. Obama is the first to admit that while this may not hurt his livelihood personally, he cares deeply about America and its people. He needs support from the strongest among us, a sense that we are all in this together in a joint effort, that it is a poor call to look back at the causes for the state of this severe crisis. Many of us have been idling, with our backs turned even on the concept of Democracy recently. Some of us are stashing our pennies, waiting for better days, and creating more obstacles, as we endure and complain, and others among us fall.

    If ever there was a time to ask what: 'Can We Do For Our Country?', it is long overdue. A broader vision, plans for the future for those who still have one, a strength of character as President Obama is showing us, a time to be at our patriotic best in these hard times. With faith, we can achieve great things while we are on a peace-corp mission throughout our Nation. Good bless, America. God bless, Mr. Obama. God bless us all.

  78. Why go for a "humble bargain" like cutting the CPI for people on Social Security? Everyone knows seniors' inflation level is more than the CPI, certainly more than the chained CPI. The experimental CPI-E (I think it's called) for the elderly more accurately reflects what real seniors buy. (drugs, health care).

    Why not end the 15% income tax rate for hedge fund millionaires? That hurts no one badly. When will we see the end of that outrageousness?

  79. With respect, Mr. Keller, you are addressing the wrong problem. Mr. Obama will be gone in three years, and whether his approval rating slumps or recovers will have little to do with the nation's well being. The real problem is that the ACA is an inefficient and cumbersome legislation that needed to be what it is because the insurance industry and conservatives will not accept a much superior and simpler single-payer "Medicare for all." That is the real problem that is hurting, and will continue to hurt, most of us.

  80. While you are correct about the ACA, you are also addressing the wrong problem. The real problem is a congress in thrall to a radical minority that, beyond hating the president, hates government. Frankly, if Hillary wins in 2016 and they're still around, the same misfortune will befall her as well.

  81. Despite the media hype, the ACA is not that major a problem (though I agree with your suggestion for fixing it). The real issue is getting the economy functioning properly, starting with jobs.

  82. So Bill, you got nothing.

    At the end of the day President Obama will still be the most hated man in red state America. No legislation is going to go forward unless it is seen as a total humiliation to the President.

    The only decision President Obama is free to make is to stop being the President of all of us and go fully partisan. As he won't do that then he is trapped continuing this same hopeless routine of just trying to minimize the damage the Tea Party can do.

    It is up to us now. Either we can set the Tea Party down or the turmoil will continue unabated.

  83. Indeed. But I don't give up the hope that President Obama, the one that is seen by other country's governments as being center-right, will go fully partisan.

    Our 'gentle' opposition would suffer a collective heart attack should Obama become center left.

  84. He already has stopped being president to all. He lied to EVERYONE about the ACA. Presidents do not lie to people.

  85. Already happened. He's deliberately created a class divide and intentionally ostracised everyone in rural areas who "clings to their guns and their religion".

  86. "Open up those Asian markets" via the Trans-Pacific Partnership to whose benefit?! These "free trade" agreements invariably turn out to be Trojan Horses, corporate free pass treaties that preempt regulation, be it financial, environmental, labor, occupational, etc. A perverse form of stealth deregulation, they are a cancer to our way of government and our way of life, in tatters though both may be...

    All one needs to evaluate their benificence is to examine their nefarious provenance: the Fortune 500, DINOS like the Clintons and Obama, and of course most of the GOP. As the epitome of traitorous triangulation, they deserve nothing but ire and rejection. But, I know, "the business of America is (big) business."

  87. I think, actually, he should be looking at expanding the safety net and increasing taxes on the people who have most profited from this boom. Or, as political right-wingers would put it, "expanding entitlements and taxing job creators."

    Of course, we haven't had major job creation from the job creators with our current tax structure. Higher top marginal rates on earned income, and treating net unearned income the same as earned income for tax purposes, would likely lead to more job creation in the private sector. It's harder to justify another hundred thousand dollars taken home if it could instead mean another three hundred thousand spent expanding the business and retaining top talent. Duplicate that ten thousand times and you have yourself a lot more jobs.

    The biggest task President Obama has it to convince and remind people that government can work, and work well. He can do that by doing his utmost to make government actually work well, and if he has to twist some GOP arms to do it I'm OK with that.

  88. Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that Obama doesn't know how to "make government actually work." Twisting republicans arms hasn't worked so far. He needs to try something else.

  89. Kentucky's rollout of Obamacare has not been a success, The majority of signups have been those seeking Medicaid. The failure so far has not been the fault of navigators, another of Keller's assertions. Mr. Keller wants to blame the failure so far on republicans, but that won't fly. The website debacle is the present and first failure. The real failure will come when young people don't sign up and the whole system collapses on itself. They would rather pay a fine than pay a high price for insurance they don't need.

  90. Women will sign up because for the first time their needs are addressed in the ACA. Young people with families will sign up because they want affordable health care for their children and spouses, the working poor will sign up because it is the first time they get health care, people with health problems that were rejected by the health insurance industry are eager to sign up because they will be able to get affordable health care.

    The difficulties with the system will get fixed and as time goes on other problems will also get fixed.

    When the President was elected he was clear the he would make mistakes but that he would do his best to fix them and has the interest of all the people in this country .

  91. Gates is not credible. Not a good choice. He applys old world thinking to 21st century problems and is tainted with the stink of Iran/Contra. George Schultz? He was a hands off Secretary of State that had no major accomplishments. He was weak as well. Served Presidents that devalued negotiated diplomacy in favor of unilateral military intervention. Your reccomendations give away your political bias and would ill serve America. Now is the time for innovation and creative thinking and both of those appointments would be stale and potentially make things worse! And the Trans Pacific Partnership is simply more of a bad thing for America and ultimately the world. It benfits only the corporate bottom line while endangering the quality of American food and, like NAFTA, will undermine middle class wages while simultaneously eliminating jobs and worst of all, move business operations out of the country thus taking tax revenue with them. Oh yeah, and you have ignored the fact that those corporations will be moving America to exploit low wages, lax environmental laws and enforcement and corrupt, business friendly 3rd world countries. No, Mr. Keller, what you suggest would turn the clock back and further build a structural foundation for the loss of our middle class.

  92. Let's forget the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Thanks to Nafta, many Nabisco products are now made in Mexico when they were once made in the factory on the southwest side of Chicago.

    The "free trade" mantra has provided an opportunity to corporations to undermine unions and therefore the living wages, benefits and protections that unions offered.

    We must protect the jobs here and we must revisit the H visas that allow companies to bring in skilled workers as part of any immigration reform.

  93. The Obama presidency will ultimately be righted by the implosion certain to continue within the republican party. The tea party is destroying the republicans and will be neutralized by the party's massive failures in the 2014 mid-terms.
    With a Democratic congress Obam's last 2 years will propel him to a status in history similar to FDR.

  94. Interesting comment...You postulate Obama's resurrection on the failure of others.

    Inasmuch as most of the failures of the Obama administration, and there have been more than just a few, are in areas where he has had exclusive control, I would be interested to hear how the failure of, say, the Republicans will have any bearing on Obama's inability to get things right.

  95. He should start the job creation projects immediately. Enhance our infrastructures:high-speed railways that may substitute our failing air transportation industry, repairing old bridges by building new arm-suspensions ones,upgrading air-ports and harbors for big shipments of cargo, etc. All these projects will create enormous new jobs and stimulate revival of industrial supplies in our home, rather than out-sourcing to other countries.

  96. the railroad project Obama proposed between D.C. and Boston would have pulled the country out of recession in and of itself, but was, alas, shot down by an uncooperative Gov. from New Jersey. and mind you, a railroad project in Florida would have done the same. also shot down by a Republican governor.

  97. The thing missing from your plan is stimulus money. The Republicans will never approve spending this money because it would make president Obama look successful. President Eisenhower had a Democrat congress who supported him in his infrastructure programs. It's too bad that the Republicans are so fixated on destroying president Obama that they are willing to destroy the US at at the same time.

  98. President Truman appointed Herbert Hoover to reorganize government after WWII and this framework remains largely in place today. He should appoint Mitt Romney to do the same. This would make it truly a bipartisan effort.

    His biggest challenge is that Americans rightly perceive that government today talks big but doesn't work from education to health care. It would end up being a mix of things conservatives and liberals would find both attractive and not but likely to change our trajectory which is a continuing fight over "more money or less" for every problem instead of what works. The rest of American life is reorganizing at a dizzying pace creating opportunities and challenges but our government actions seem to be a torrent or rules that no one can keep up with and half baked measures that ignore reality.

    If taxes have to go up to pay for better government so be it. But increasing taxes simply to continue as is doesn't appeal to me at all. So let's get a plan and hold people accountable.

  99. "He should miss no opportunity to portray the 2014 elections not as 435 House contests and 33 Senate races, but as a national referendum on our government dysfunction."

    The 2014 elections will be about Obama and the Democrats sheer incompetence over the calamity called Obamacare, in particular the explosion in 2015 insurance premiums announced just in time for the 2014 elections.

  100. Where were your complaints about insurance premiums increasing in the eighties and nineties and early 2000s?

  101. @Epeon,
    Your example supports one or her points. Texas, like California, is governed by a single party.

    Yes, Texas doesn't tax personal income, but it collects revenues in other ways, including a high sales tax. If tax burden is your reason for relocating, why Texas? Why not Tennessee, South Dakota, or Alabama? These states have a lower tax burden than Texas.

    Having a job and being on the dole are not mutually exclusive. Low skilled workers need state and federal support to subsidize their meager wages.

  102. No, low skilled workers need to improve their skills and their education...not an incentive to continue to perform at low standards because they have neither.

    Life isn't fair and trying to create an equality of outcomes through government subsidy is a fool's errand.

  103. Firing Clapper would be a good and necessary first step, and thanks for mentioning it. Lying to Congress under oath is a felony. Indicting Clapper would be much better, and would more clearly demonstrate that Obama's commitment to transparent government is more than hollow rhetoric, which it now seems to be.

  104. Yes but if he fired Clapper for lying under oath to Congress he would have to do the same with Eric Holder.

    And if he starts firing LIARS he'd have to fire Susan Rice and hold Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner accountable for lying outright and intentionally misleading the country.

    Then THAT would lead to a spotlight shining ever brighter on himself, the LIAR in Chief, the man who LIES directly to the American public on a regular and ongoing basis. And continues to do so even when it is obvious and irrefutable and to his great detriment.

    In the real world, when employees are caught lying, usually it is AGAINST the directives and standards of the employer and those employees are fired. No one in this administration has EVER been fired regardless of their egregious behaviors.

    It is quite reasonable to assume that Obama's minions are performing to their employers standards and expectations....period.

  105. what commitment?

  106. Obama will ignore all this advice and instead rely on the same things that have won him two national elections:
    1) demonize republicans,
    2) use social issues to split the electorate,
    3) enjoy ongoing support from the media elite, who refuse to hold him accountable for his flaws.

    Why mess with success? Unfortunately, none of those things actually help the country, but since when has that mattered to him?

  107. Seems that the Republicans do a great job of demonizing themselves, by their actions and then attacking one another a la Rick Perry attacking Christie.

  108. demonize republicans? ludicrous. in the recent local election, the democrats swept the town board and judgeship. it was a stunning victory, and a harbinger of what's to come, and it had nothing to do with demonization--that category unequivocally goes to republicans in the local letters to the editor column, diatribes of scorn belittlement to members of the opposite party.

    a media owned by and large by major corporations is a bit of a misnomer, there, my friend. I'm afraid the three items you listed apply rather well for your own party.

  109. No one has to demonize the demonic.

  110. You beg the question, Justine. California does NOT lead the nation in poverty. California has one of the largest economies in the world and is doing great now that the GOP has been relegated to toothless minority status. The low wage industries (farming, retail and fast food) put their workers on social programs to subsidize their poverty wages and boost their profits, not because they are poverty stricken but because they can. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage and get out of the way.

  111. Yes. We have unemployment north of 10%, highest taxes in the nation (including 10% regressive sales tax in most counties), lousy schools and roads and half a trillion dollars in liability for public pensions. Oh, did I mention energy prices skyrocketing and business leaving the state?

    I guess if you are the coastal aristocrat you don't care about Fresnos and Bakersfields where people live in poverty and suffer. Yeah, we are doing great!

  112. Declare a "State of Congressional Emergency" and simply do what needs to be done for the economy and health care.

  113. Cool idea. Should we let Never-Had-A-Job/Embarassing Liar Obama decide what is best? Or let Never-had-A-Job, lifetime freeloader Biden decide? Or should we wait and have Barely-Had-A-Job, Lifetime Freeloader - and Bill's Doormat - Hilly decide? Or we can leave it to Never-Had-A-Job Academic Warren to decide.

  114. I think the US and Obama should work to revive the multilateral trading system -- the stalled Doha round -- rather than treating Chinese prosperity as a threat to American leadership and pursuing a thinly disguised containment approach to China -- the TPP. The US achieved its legitimacy as a global leader by developing a rule-based and open approach to global economic governance. This should not be exchanged for beggar thy neighbor regionalism.

  115. The Kentucky health insurance rollout "worked the way it was supposed to" in part because Kentucky has a state, not federal, exchange. It makes a difference.

  116. Had all states done like Kentucky, Washington, California, etc., there would have been less pressure on the Fed program. But, most GOP governors refused to allow their states to design their own systems and sabotaged Fed efforts in their states.

  117. That's the original ACA design - it worked like it's supposed to. The federal exchange was not designed to handle the all the states' populations, and deserves credit for scrambling to meet the recalcitrant states' responsibilities.

  118. Yes, but what about all the states with Republican controlled legislatures that refused to authorize state exchanges that could have, would have facilitated implementattion of the ACA?

  119. Why would anyone support a President who is an out and out bold faced liar? Millions of people are hurting because of his lies. He did it all to place the people who are hard working and responsible citizens under financial duress for the benefit of a bunch of do nothing welfare cheats. It just makes no sense. He is a liar now and he always will be a liar. People who think otherwise are kidding themselves and will end up paying for his lies.

  120. "...responsible citizens under financial distress..."

    Many of those citizens, especially those with 401k retirement plans have benefitted under President Obama's watch, as the Dow has climbed from 6500 to 15500.

    How much more would our responsible citizens have suffered had he not helped pull us out of the worst financial crisis in 80 years?

  121. Bald-faced compared to whom? His predecessor in the White House? I think not.

  122. I would bet that you supported president Bush when he lied about the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Several hundred thousand people died including thousands of our own. Our taxes are now paying for that lie. Please tell me how many people will die because president Obama said that you can keep your present insurance plan. Also tell me why my taxes will go up because of this?

  123. Yes, it all starts with nationalizing the next elections. Within the last two years of his presidency, Obama can achieve most of his goals if he has a pragmatic congress to work with.

  124. I'm all for a "national election", even as a conservative. I think we'd do extremely well in such a situation. Please, please, go for it!

  125. Please kiss the Grand Bargain goodbye,
    And quickly I say with a sigh,
    Jobs, Jobs are the ticket
    From a sticky wicket,
    That's where all effort must apply!

  126. Larry, yes "Jobs" is the problem; FairTax is the answer. Bill Keller, how on earth can you present such a well argued piece without even a mention of H.R. 25 (The Fair Tax Act of 2013)? This simple measure, already co-sponsored by over 70 congresspersons (yes, embarrassingly mostly Republicans). How can you good-willed writers keep ignoring the tremendous leap this administration and the country would take without IRS impeding our progress? Please take a few moments to read the bill or at least go to fairtax(dot)org or fairtaxnation(dot)com to learn of such a wise, practical and historic proposal.

  127. President Obama should take the offensive. He should get hold of every republican racist remark since his assent to the Presidency, Play them out, name names, place faces to names, and call out the racists obstructionists for what they are. That's exactly what he should do.

  128. This is a very thoughtful column, Mr. Keller. Your emphasis on the midterm elections is especially salient.

    President Obama’s team, under his leadership, should perhaps, very soon, begin organizing an election campaign. While he “will not be on the ballot,” he and his team should campaign as if he is on it.

    President Obama and his team should be urged to do what they are best at doing. They should campaign vigorously during the 2014 elections for a new Congress. They, as well as all President Obama’s political supporters, in both houses, should campaign equally vigorously with President Obama and with his team. They should campaign from north to south and from east to west. They should leave no stone unturned. Their message should be one of unity, one that would appeal to all Americans, irrespective of party affiliation.

    They should educate the electorate about the existential threat divided government creates for a functional democracy. They should remind the voters of the folly of running government by crisis, of the danger money generates for a stable two-party political structure and the urgent need to replace those who place the interests of the few over those of the many.

    Maybe this message could reelect a new Congress, one that would not only advance President Obama’s program, but that would dislodge a minority that is determined to block the will of the majority.

  129. Take on voter suppression as part of the 2014 election. The fact that the GOP is taking away the votes of millions of U.S. citizens should be addressed as the outrage that it is.

  130. Not to mention banking suppression. The bankers demand ID every time poor folks want to withdraw money from their account. That is outrageous. Same thing with DMV and police. Demanding of people to have an ID? That is driving rights suppression. Let's stump it now.

  131. Pandering to Hispanics who want to invite yet more Hispanics here solely because they are Hispanic and not because they are a good fit with our economy is not good public policy. That is racism. Worse, it punishes our unemployed, raises taxes on the middle class to pay for social services the illegals use and aids the one-percenters in their quest for cheap and docile labor. Amnesty for unskilled Mexican nationals who do not speak English, pay much in taxes and are largely here to make a quick buck is a lousy idea at best. Pols who support the economic desires of foreigners who have broken many of our laws over the needs of the American public are traitors. They should be voted out of office.

  132. Obama's priorities should be working to upgrade our infrastructure, make our educational institutions better, decrease unemployment, improve our efforts at energy efficiency and push space exploration. The last thing this president should worry about are the desires of illegal aliens who have freely broken our laws and have no claim on our society. He was elected to represent the voters of this country and make this country a better and fairer society. He was not elected to pander to the selfish, racist, short-sighted concerns of the Hispanic lobby and their absurd demands to give official sanction to unskilled largely Latino foreigners to continue to invade our country.

  133. Maybe someone call call up the folks at Oslo and see if they would be willing to give the President another one of those fancy prizes. That outta get his poll numbers to rise.

    Let's face it friends, as much as we would like to pin all of this on the Republicans, let us not forget that much of President Obama's problems were of his own making. Remember, he had a Democratic plurality in Congress for the first half of term one (and don't forget that we Democrats owned the Congress during W's final years). Look how much (or little) was actually accomplished during that time.

    Do I think we would be better with a Republican running the show? Of course not, but let us not be so blinded by our own shortcomings that we give Obama a pass.

  134. "For example, Strain says Republicans should be willing to agree to a bit more spending on job-stimulating federal programs if Democrats agree to slow the long-term growth of entitlements a little by, say, employing a more realistic cost of living formula." --- Keller.

    There's much to both praise and find fault with in Bill Keller's analysis, but I'll focus on his comment above. The so-called "chained cost of living index" is NOT more "realistic" than the present CPI-W that is used for cost of living adjustments to Social Security, federal and military retiree annuities, and a number of other indexes tied to the CPI. The basic assumption behind the chained CPI is that when costs of an item go up, people will look for a cheaper alternative. For example, when the price of T-bone steak increases, more people will switch to, say, chuck steak. But it should be obvious that their standard of living suffers as a result. If you follow this logic through to its endpoint, we'll all be eating dogfood or catfood eventually.

    But the real reason the chained CPI is being pushed, even by President Obama, is because it would save the government barrels of money in entitlement costs, not because anyone thinks it's a fairer or more "realistic" CPI measure. In fact, the evidence is that the current CPI-W doesn't adequately state the real cost of living for recipients, especially the high increases in medical costs that are a concern of the elderly. If anything, the CPI should be increased.

  135. There is far too much in this column, including ambition in resolving problems. to respond to on this forum. However, I must note this sentence: "...the public has not fully grasped that the problem is not everyone, it’s mostly the Republicans."

    And why, we should ask, might that be?

    It is in large measure because the major media is afraid to report the truth and people like Sen. Cruz of Texas (are there any others like him?) is therefore free to go on national television (Leno) saying, "We didn't want to shutdown the govt.", and then blame it all on Obama. This is such a boldface lie that it creates a new category of lies, ones that are so obvious that they escape like a rat running from a speeding car before the truth can be told. It defies argument because it is such a huge, festering lie.

    Please, someone, show me one television reporter in America who was willing to stand in front of the Capitol Building and say, "The Republicans have decided to shutdown the govt. if they don't get their way before tomorrow." This is a simple, straight forward sentence and it has the added benefit of being the truth.

    Until the major media in our country find a way out of their defensive crouch and decide once again to engage in truth telling, the public will continue to be confused and frustrated with the "back and forth in Washington" and "gridlock".

  136. Salvage Zero,. I'd love to see the headline " salvage bush". You need to get out of that bubble you're suffocating in and breath some fresh air of realism. The Times is a local joke and everyone outside of NYC knows this. But the people who worship this rag will be the wife

  137. This is an excellent commentary because it properly defines the current situation of the president and the country.

    In foreign affairs, I would urge the president to normalize relations with Cuba; long overdue and even supported in Miami by a younger generation ready to make a difference. But first, Obama should send Kerry on a preliminary trip to obtain the release of Alan Gross, the American contractor while looking into the cases of the "Cuban Five" held in prisons for spying in Miami . It would be a major diplomatic victory for the president and a real boost for the tourism economy.

    You are absolutely right about the need to nationalize the 2014 mid term elections; perhaps the only way to start governing again. President Obama needs to lead this charge to reinvigorate his administration and the country.

  138. The Great Gist of what Mr. Keller says is... mostly, somewhat right. For the people who don't like Obama, nothing Obama will do matters.

    But for the rest of us who voted for Obama with Hope in our hearts and Great Expectations for Change... we have been sorely disappointed. Obama has been either Bush-lite or more than Bush-Cheney could ever be. And witnessing Obamacare, we can see that Obama is also incompetent as a manager. So what great things can Obama do to redeem himself?

    1. Sure, Obama should fire Clapper... and roll back his Obawellian Big Brother gov't. He should also pardon Manning and Snowden immediately, or worst case, wait until his last year as president.

    2. MOST IMPORTANT: Implement a Massive Economic Stimulus program... to create the jobs needed for our unemployed and underemployed whose lives are now being destroyed AND to fix all the bridges that are falling down and build and fix all the badly decaying and inadequate infrastructure America needs to be a viable economy of the 21st century. How to do this without Congress? DO IT BY PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE ACTION... and fight it out in the courts. But get the economy going!

    3. Disengage from foreign adventures. We just can't afford anymore $Trillions going to Shock and Aweing and Predator Droning and Collateral Damaging.

    4. Scrap Obamacare, which is a failure at the get-go. The future is Medicare for all... so come up with a new and better program AND don't call it OBAMACARE!

  139. Dear Mr. Keller, you state that "the public has not fully grasped that the problem is not everyone, it’s mostly the Republicans." and that we need "more spending on job-stimulating federal programs". So the trillions spent on "job-stimulation" with zero and worse results aren't enough to convince you that government "job-stimulation" leads to fewer willing workers, vastly larger social programs and costs, and rigged unemployment and inflation statistics.

    And that's all happening in spite of a trillion dollar per year counterfeit operation (to be paid for by our children and their children) instigated by the Federal Reserve that is barely holding up the nation's house of cards. In Bretton Woods, at the end of WWII, the US conned the rest of the world into accepting the dollar as THE international currency and into believing the US would finally keep its side of an agreement. Even though most of the rest of the world continues to accept these counterfeit bills as they hold real value and ALL the rest of the world realizes none of them could print its currency so irresponsibly, most economic indicators confirm the downward spiral begun by government over-reach and favoritism begun in 2001. No, Mr. Keller, "you have not fully grasped that 'THE PROBLEM' is our officious, dogmatic, wasteful and arrogant government" designed by self-interested and willfully deluded Democrats as well as establishment Republicans--a government that destroys 2-7 jobs for each one it "stimulates".

  140. And once again nothing on that list benefits the average American. I guess Washington gave up on that concept. Let Obama and all the lawmakers go home and do nothing, we would be far better off. The project isn't about saving Obama's legacy or helping him win political battles.

  141. what a bunch of nonsense! Obama care problems due to sabotage? Excuse me but that is plain liberal melarkey. Be at least honest with those who are loosing their health care coverage due to stupidity and plain political stubbornness. We Americans deserve better then this

  142. I disagree. The Grand Bargain is precisely where a president seeking to salvage a legacy SHOULD strike. If it appears that he's going the way of Millard Fillmore, then at least go out fighting.

    The debacle that and the ACA itself have become, worsened by the now-obvious reality that they're not going to meet the "end-November" due date for "glitch" fixes, suggests the solution, one that Bill Clinton, ever-alert to opportunities of turning frogs into princes, would see immediately.

    Admit that the ACA was a mistake, that it was a Band-Aid to improve access for some at the cost of serious burdens on others; but leaving intact the most serious problems of our current healthcare framework. It was simply passed in a desperate attempt to secure SOMETHING, not the right thing.

    He should push for single-payer for basic healthcare for all Americans, but roll ALL our current programs into it -- Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, the healthcare elements of SS, GovCare, VeteranCare, the state accretions such as RomneyCare -- and remove the burden from businesses for basic coverage of employees. Subsidized insurance could be purchased for levels of coverage above the basic. Get rid of fee-for-service for the single-payer part.

    Then ENGAGE and make the effort HIS. If he succeeds, he solves our debt problems, improves life immensely for Americans, and becomes immortal. If he fails, at least he gave it a shot.

    Better than focusing on Clapper and becoming ... Millard Fillmore.

  143. Our president and his team are too bold on small issues and too timid on large ones.

    They tried to stand aside during most of the govt. shutdown, on the not unreasonable assumption that being out front would cause more blame to be pointed at the president. Yet, they (and he) seem afraid to call out obstructionism and the absolutist positions of a few members of Congress. They don't engage. They stand back and wait.

    This policy worked well to condition the public to reelect Obama, but he has won his last election of his life.

    One fear that motivated them seemed to be building up the power of the "Do or Die Caucus" by challenging them directly. Had he issued a forthright challenge to obstructionism, would they have then had to go through with their threat to default on America's debt obligations? If they had done so, would it have provided the president with an opportunity to "break the fever" with his own actions?

    Inch by inch incrementalism is not working. This last stand-off was the first one when Obama was not forced into some sort of major compromise.

    One of the first orders of business should be to find a way to force Boehner to stop using the Hastert/Boehner rule on calling up legislation to the House floor. This phony-baloney "rule" means that no compromise is possible, because there is no one with whom to compromise. It is undemocratic and obstructionist from the get go and, from there, it never gets going.

  144. Mr. Keller, you're the Times editor who buried the story on Bush's illegal wiretapping of Americans for more than a year, until well after the 2004 election. Your paper only published it when the reporters who wrote it were about to publish a book telling everything. You have no credibility on the issue of illegal government surveillance of citizens, and you should just admit that once and for all.

    I have no suggestions for Obama, other than to admit that he simply is not good at governing. He never managed anything in his life before becoming president, and it shows. Not every president has a lot of management experience, but those who don't should take care to surround themselves with people who do, as Lincoln did. Lincoln didn't always make the right picks, but when someone didn't perform he was smart enough to replace them. Obama has failed in this regard as well. No one should be surprised that his administration looks like the Keystone Cops. That's who they are.

  145. Another word, your advice is to let the ACA sink, is that right? Get off the Titanic in a life boat called "It's Ted Cruz Fault" and let all those who believed in its unsinkability go down with the ship while the band plays on. And of course the dumb American public will buy it again, is that right?

    Have you noticed what is going on, Mr. Keller?

  146. Do I detect a bit of SCHADENFREUD in your comments on the travails of the House of Representatives? Your unfailing protection of Obama is well known but gloating over the struggles of the Congress, who struggles to contain the deteriorating conditions you so carefully outlined above, and for which Obama bears primary responsibility is approaching trite!

    When I watched the painful NBC apology interview, I wasn't quite sure whether I was watching the Coerced apology of General George S. Patton, so artfully delivered by George C. Scott, or the Excruciatingly Forced Apology of a Cornered President!

  147. Sometimes I wonder if the air around the New York Times building is lacking in oxygen. I mean how else does one explain this inability to face reality? First, Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. Not just because they botched the website. But, in the end, it penalizes everybody by adding a government layer of bureaucracy on health care. Like all government regulations it inflates costs. Secondly, it penalizes the young and the middle class (those too poor for subsidies, but not rich) in favor for the poor. This is OK if you believe it this redistribution but it is precisely what Obama denied. So, pardon me, but we were lied to when he sold this plan. Politically, it is death. Obama is penalizing those that voted for him in favor of those that already do. It is not surprise that Cuccinelli carried the youth vote. Thirdly, the economy continues to be a disaster. What do you think the longterm consequences of sub 2% growth means? And, finally, Obama accepts responsibility for nothing. That is growing old.

    In short, Obama is now making even Jimmy Carter look good.

  148. "I invite readers to post their own suggestions in the comments section."

    Good for you, Mr. Keller, you make a terrifically sagacious arm-chair president.

    My suggestion, and there's just one, is coming below in a moment. Let me say first that I voted for President Obama twice. He was miles ahead of the competition.

    Let me also say that after the first year of his presidency, I began blowing hot and cold on President Obama. I wrote a lot of comments about him in the Times that I regret and that I wish I could expunge from the "newspaper of record."

    None of us, not a single one of us, especially if he or she is a white person, as you and I are, Mr. Keller, has any idea whatsoever what it's like to be in President Obama's African-American skin and to be president and to be bombarded well nigh hourly with the trash, the mud, the slime that his "critics" sling at him.

    Nobody, certainly not I, nor you either, will be able to evaluate President Obama's two terms in the presidency until he's been out of office for at least ten years.

    I've decided to call a halt to my own venting, bloviating, whatever, about the president, to call a moratorium on my own criticism of his presidency, satisfying parlor game though it is.

    I suggest that you do so, as well.

    I'm guessing that history will treat President Obama far, far better than all his critics have, from the troglodytes to the learnèd pundits.

  149. George Shultz one of the "great living statesmen"(?!!!!) wondering why a liar is still in office? From 1982-1989 he presided at the State Department during the Reagan years of lies, monetary and military support for dictators, "secret" bunker fascists operating in the White House basement, and regular-as-clockwork Latin American atrocities defended by his administration.

    Obama doesn't need advice on how to win points. He needs a Congress devoid of regressive, obstructionist Republicans whose only purpose has been to attempt to destroy him. They've failed miserably, but because of corruption--Citizens United(doublespeak at its best), gerrymandering, and the continuing attempt by Republicans to suppress voting--we're in a state of nihilistic limbo orchestrated by the puppetmaster Kochs and the Christian evangelical industry.

  150. Obama and Obamacare are frauds. He lied to pass the bill and he lied to get re-elected. The only ones who still support him and Obamacare are the ones who got suckered by it. It's really hard for them to admit that.

  151. Hello Bill and greetings.

    This is one reason I have never subscribed to NYT ... how could I? It's one thing for Democrats and others to call me names; that's fine. But, for someone in your role (current or past),to call us names is just awful. You have suggested so many remedies and courses of action that the Prez should take. But, not one word to create employment by approving Keystone Pipeline. And, remember this: before it was disapproved, the State Dept. did approve it. And,not a word about that. So all I can say is keep up the good work - your can be the NYT or DNCT or whatever and continue to bad mouth and tarnish us. We'll do just fine. Its America I am worried about.

    Thank you,


  152. All good points Bill - problem is that the President is quite deaf

  153. Reform campaign finance. Once our representatives represent the voters rather than concentrated business and ideological groups, we can better address all of the problems.

  154. A sure sign of liberal defeat is when a NYT article ends in comparing Obama's dismal approval ratings to those of Congress. San Franciscans like Pelosi and Texans Cruz,but America no longer loves the hopemonger. And that is more than the editors of this formerly fine paper can bare.

  155. After 5 years of Obama and the democrats in the driver seat we have the worst recovery, slowest economic growth, and higest UNEMPLOYMENT for the longest period of time since the Great Depression. Incomes for average working Americans have also fallen more under the failed and dishonest Obama Presidency tha under any President since the Depression. The still very high, and rising, UNEMPLOYMENT rate of 7.3% would actually be 10% except so many millions of Americans have just given up under Obama and dropped out onto disability, welfare, and Obamastamps. The percentage of Americans actually working is at its lowest in over 30 years. All of that yet Mr Keller and the NYT don't even suggest that Obama salvage his Presidency by improving economic growth or jobs. Of course they know that the Obama policies, that they like the most, are all economy and job killers. As for foreign policy? Never in all history has a President failed so badly. Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, all allies, don't trust Obama. Great Britain refuses to stand by the U.S. for the first time since the War of 1812 because they think Obama is an untrustworthy incompetent. Our enemies though are thrilled and Iran will soon have nukes. The real advice here is to keep LYING about Obamacare, fire a few scapegoats, and demonize Republicans. Well at least that agenda meets Obama's low level of integrity and honesty, and plays to his incompetence. We'll see if lying, whining, and blaming keeps working for him?

  156. Obama could remind people that the ACA will eliminate annual and lifetime limits. He could also remind people that, because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer look for a mistake on your application as a way to deny coverage when you need an expensive procedure - after you've been faithfully paying the premium every month for years.

    He could remind people that any health care reform proposed by the GOP does not include these benefits.

  157. Accept the obvious, Keller. There is no hope for Obama and it's no one's fault but his own.

  158. Don't you just love columnists? Think of it: these arrogant,ego-driven people get paid to write all manner of drivel at length and know that- like their radio/ tv equivalents ordinary folks like you and me will - foolishly read their usually highly negative material,forget it is purely opinion and little fact and be persuaded by it.
    We,the readers - who on the other hand have to pay are allowed only a limited number of words (I am down to just over a thousand here why ? Is cyber space expensive?) on certain topics to give our views(this is democracy ?)
    Whatever.Right now America has one of it's most decent and intelligent Presidents.He has access to facts and advice that the writer above does not.He makes mistakes because- breaking news!- he is human.He is confronted by an insane congresss that will not be reasoned with.And computer sites -especially sophisticated ones tend to breakdown.
    And- thank god- Obama has neither the time nor the inclination to follow the advice of know- it-all scribes in newspapers.
    Perhaps Mr Keller - who seems so full of ideas- should run for President? But,nah! That would be too hard..

  159. "Fire James Clapper."

    Agree. Aside from the wrongness of lying to the People in the first place, if you're going to lie because, in your mind, it's for A Higher Cause, then be prepared to brazen your way through it if you're caught. Whatever you do, don't *explain* lying:

    “I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked ‘when are you going to start–stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is, meaning not answerable necessarily, by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful or least untruthful manner, by saying, ‘No.’”

    Was there not another way to frame "the unanswerable"? I realize this is a classic legal example of "the unanswerable," but still.

    “Going back to my metaphor, what I was thinking of is looking at the Dewey Decimal numbers of those books in the metaphorical library,” he said. “To me collection of U.S. persons data would mean taking the books off the shelf, opening it up and reading it.”

    And his metaphor for our personal information is *a public library*. What's the big deal about some library books? (It's only freedom.)

  160. Reverse Citizens United, make it obvious who is buying the government and why.
    Vigorously pursue and overturn voter suppression.
    In the states, challenge the legality of the most egregiously gerrymandered districts.
    Prosecute banking and investment fraud, tighten up SEC.
    Put teeth in all the government agencies that are supposed to protect the public and the environment.
    Reject Keystone XL, show you are serious about environment.
    Put the brakes on NSA.
    Fix the ACA website--people are offering to do it for free.
    Don't be part of the corruption.
    Don't lie. (Did not expect to have to say that to this President.)
    Stop the drones, they aren't working.
    Don't sell out the environment or the worker to international trade partnerships, here or anywhere else.

    Thank you for not invading Syria and for talking to Iran. Don't let Bibi or the Sauds define our Middle East policy.

    ACA is better than nothing. You would never have had the launch failure if it had been single payer.

  161. Not surprisingly, Mr. Keller is delusional. The Affordable Care Act will soon work, and people will like it? That notion could only exist in the imagination of someone who reads--or edits--nothing but the New York Times.

    This may be the howler of the entire piece: "In the Middle East, Obama is now pretty much where he wants to be ..." Yes, indeed. The Egyptians hate us, the Syrians ignore us, the Iranians mock us, the Saudis snub us, and our one true ally (Israel) doesn't trust us. What could be better?

    Mr. Keller's last suggestion for the President: Stay in permanent campaign mode! He may not have noticed, but Mr. Obama has never left it.Campaigning is the one thing he does well.

  162. Mr Keller seems totally unaware of most of criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, such as that, to the extent that anything is known publicly of its substance, it is largely a pro-corporation racket that is being negotiated in secret.

  163. It was apparent to me in 2008 that Barack Obama was not a leader. I'm proud to say that I never voted for him or Ronald Reagan: The truth is, our country has experienced two failed presidencies in succession. The truth is, our country is following the path of Roman decline and Bourbon bankruptcy. The truth is, there will never be change unless there is an external shock to the system whereby the few govern for the good of the many: the Periclean ideal.

  164. Mr. Obama ought to work towards the following: Use the airwaves to get the average person to understand, finally, why the GOP is the enemy of everyone who isn't a millionaire. Close Gitmo. Pay low wage workers a decent wage by making it law. Get out of the countries where we have been fighting - since we never did anything but lose lives - and make that money generate jobs here at home.

    Most of what's wrong with the USA can be blamed on greed and on selfishness from the ground up. As long as we all worry about our own lives first and everyone else's second, we will continue to go downhill. It isn't necessary to choose between your own welfare and that of others unless you are taught that this is so. Rather, we can find a way to help everyone do better without making anyone else do worse, but we have to have that as a goal, and believe that it is achievable. That is the biggest problem of all.

    Sitting back and allowing the super wealthy to buy the government has caused us all enormously, accidental or not. In order to stop this trend, we need bold leadership, and, unfortunately, leadership is not something our president has to offer. He is a good speaker, but that's not enough. In order to push back hard enough on all the negativity swirling around him, he needs to figure out how to use the power of his office before he gives it up.

  165. Mr. Keller, ever the fan of this failed president, suggests firing people....especially those who lie.
    I suggest a more ambitious stance on that angle: The President should fire himself.
    He lied.

    Clapper lied about an issue dealing with national security - one in which he was trying to hide government secrets.....already known to at least some in the Congress.

    The President lied about Obamacare. His promise was crassly political. If he had not repeated that lie over and over, many Democrats would not have voted to pass his "signature presidential achievement".

    The proof of that is all the hustle by Democrats in Congress - and up for reelection next year - to drastically distance themselves from the fact that many of them repeated that same lie to justify votes critical to AHA passage.

    The only thing keeping a chorus of demands for Obama's resignation from reaching a crescendo is the identity of the Vice-President.

  166. 0bama would be much. much more popular if the would resign. That is the only way he can restore any level of respect or confidence in him and his judgment. Barring that, it only gets worse from here as people start to see the ridiculous 0bamacare policies with huge deductibles and copays and high premiums for little coverage unless you are already chronicaly ill. As we approach next Fall and the 2014 election, the employer mandate will kick in and tens of million more will be notified beginning in September that they too will lose their medical insurance through their employers except for maybe those working for the Fortune 500. In October 1, 2014, the new 2015 0bamacare plans and rate increases will be disclosed in Open Enrollment, and folks will see the significant increased costs from just the 2014 plans. And then the November 4th election will see the irate voters take their vengeance, with 0bama and every Democrat who voted for 0bamacare the targets.

    For his own party's survival, 0bama would be wise to fall on his sword, take all the blame, resign, and try to give the Democrats time to recover and cast the blame away from themselves and on a resigned President. Oddly. this would boost his popularity also the attacks from both sides of the aisle an his mea culpa would engender sympathy for him. And Biden would be on deck to take the hits from an increasingly failing exchange program that will begin imploding quickly.

  167. It is a breath of fresh air to see a responsible comment about the Obama Administration. No doubt the most important is finding out who is responsible for mistakes and other embarassments and making sure they lose their influence and voice with the President. The mark of any great Administration has always been the quality and responsibility of the Presidential team. It is impossible to expect that one man run a Nation but it is only right that he should get rid of bunglers ands incompetants .

  168. Quite frankly, Bill, it is the so-called journalists like yourself who are to blame for much of what is going on in Washington. So many of you were so mesmerized with Obama from the start that you never asked the most basic of questions regarding his ability to function as a chief executive officer.

    Let's be honest for a minute. If someone walked through the doors of Microsoft, Toyota, Fizer, Ford, etc. and said he wanted to be the CEO of that company but had not served ONE MINUTE in ANY executive capacity prior to this attempt, would he have a snowball's chance of getting an interview, let alone the job? Only in government do these things happen on a regular basis, and people like you shirked you responsibility of vetting Obama in the first place.

    Now that we have seen the emperor has no clothes and that he has truly been floundering from day one, people like you want to give him advise on what to do next. It apparently STILL hasn't occurred to you that the last five years have essentially been an on-the-job training exercise for Obama. He had NO executive knowledge coming in, an irrefutable truth, and yet you somehow expect him to now put it all together and become a perfectly competent manager.

    What can you possibly be basing this on? He has stumbled and bumbled his way through one foreign policy blunder after another, increased the debt at twice the rate Bush did, and now has lied about what he knew regarding the the ACA rollout.

    Wake up, Bill!

  169. The Obama Presidency is doomed and there's no way out. The next wave of cancellation letters will begin on January 2 and peak by mid-February -- as Medicare seniors are either denied treatment and/or forced to pay additional co-pays directly to providers, as Mayo Clinic has demanded for over three years now,

    40% of all primary doctors already refuse Medicare, citing both losses and billing nightmares. Obama REQUIRES additional Medicare losses to "pay for" itself, on top of the previously-mandated 26% cut in provider fees on January one.

    Surrounded by losses and threats, doctors are actually rewarded for dumping their money-losing Medicare patients, to be replaced with fill-price patients, where taxpayer subsidies are used to outbid current Medicare patients ... where the NY Times reports we have a shortage of 62,000 doctors next year BEFORE Obamacare adds 30 million newly insured healthcare consumers. This is already worse than he collapse of the Nixon Presidency.

    Even if the President and his party acknowledge this pending debacle, by repealing the provider cuts, then Obamacare collapses like a house of cards with no savings to finance the Medicare expansion -- which CBO says is double-counting anyhow, on savings the administration's own trustees (Sebelius and Lew) admit will never happen in their signed report.. Is ANYONE paying attention?

    Or am I "feigning indignation?" (I'm on Medicare)

  170. We do not want to save Obama.

    He never should have been Pres in the first place, he never should have been in a second term.

    The sooner he and his people are gone from power, the better off the country will be.

    Obama destroys.

    He has never made anything better in his entire life and if people had paid attention to his background and what he has done as Pres...they would have known this.

    He is not a good Pres....PERIOD.

    Never has been and never will be.

  171. Gee, Bill, President Obama's putative political and Congressional agenda may well be under water, as you claim, but on Friday I watched as the stock market ran to unprecedented highs, led by a remarkable surge by the too-big-to-fail banks. So *somebody* is plenty happy as the state of the Union. JP Morgan Chase is up 33.5% for the year, well above the market as a whole. Jamie Dimon is happy, I'm sure.
    As much as Keller remains unrepentant about holding up the James Risen-Eric Lichtblau story of Bush era wireless wiretapping until after Bush's re-election, as he weighs in in Margaret Sullivan's column yesterday, he should at least acknowledge his and the Times' complicity in giving aid and comfort to the rise of the security state of which James Clapper, who Keller now endorses putting out on the unemployment line, is emblematic. I believe you're quite late to this party, Mr. Keller.

  172. In November 2007 I sent Senator Obama an e-mail outlining energy independence as our most urgent national security issue. Here in part is what I said, and I believe it is still valid today.

    " ...challenge the country, the people, the private sector and government at all levels, to again form a great partnership tasked with making our homeland fully energy independent by the end of the next decade or 12 years from now....While our economy is proving itself resilient to the high oil prices we have today, we cannot take the risk that even higher sustained prices, probably well over $100 per barrel, might adversely affect our economy tomorrow. This risk is compounded by the growing competition for sources of carbon energy. Emerging industrial counties, like China, India and our neighbors to the south, and underdeveloped countries, including many in Africa, will require ever more carbon to sustain their economic growth. So, to put it bluntly, carbon independence is our greatest national security challenge in this first quarter of the 21th century."

    We are certainly moving in the right direction but a nudge from the administration would help. I believe it would also be an appealing challenge that most folks would support.

  173. The problem isn't Obama. The problems stem from foreign, and US megalomanic billionaire elitists, who bankroll these con jobs so they can line their own pockets and pretend to play God with the peasants. Soros, a convicted felon in EU, has a warrant out for his arrest in Russia, and has placed his corrupt politicians all over the country, and the world. The media calls it "philanthropy". It is no coincidence the media is distorting reality. Soros and his ilk, have billion dollar "think tanks" and NGO's pushing their agendas. This has been happening for a long time, but at this point it is no joke. Carter's former National Security advisor, and Obama's campaign advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said, "It Is Infinitely Easier to Kill a Million People than it is to Control Them". He was recorded speaking to his fellow elitists in 2008.

    This isn't a "Rothchild" or Zionist conspiracy, it is a handful of atheists with no moral compass, whose only religion is money. With a sold out media, and owned politicians, this country is reverting back to colonialism except the nobility pulling the strings remains hidden.,+George&stat...

  174. totally delusional. When will Mr. Keller understand that the American people, who never favored ACA, will never come to support this law. Fixing the website will only expose the dysfunctional legislation for what it is. We have been hearing for more than 3 years how the law will become more popular. This has not been and will not be the case. The Democrats are in for a very long 2014, and it will not be pleasant. As for AVA, wait till the notices start going out in October 2014 on employer group cancellations...yes 1 month before the midterms. This law and Obama will not be salvagable.

  175. Once again Mr Keller adds his voice to those who say Republicans wanted to kill the AFA. But didn't Democrats do the same thing to Bush when he wanted to privatize part of Social Security? The Post Office is a great example why the government should not try to run this. If they can't balance a budget what makes you think they will be fiscally sound? The cost has already gone from $900 billion to $2.8 trillion. Who foots the bill? The sick and elderly? And to blatantly remove people from their plans was wrong. There was nothing wrong with their plans. Obama changed the rules, suddenly they are substandard. I have seen countless examples of people who have reproductive care when they are past that time or have pediatric coverage and they are adults. There are too many flaws. They need to work it out first.

    Did Republicans obstruct Obama from giving the unions a waiver? Why do they get one and not everyone else? Is this one hand washing the other? And it was Obama who delayed the employer mandate, not Republicans. Doesn't it concern people that they had over 3 years to get ready, that they spent $624 on s website that was doomed to failure?

    Obama denied it but Harry Reid wants a single payer system. Great. Now instead of my doctor and deciding my care some career government employee will. So am I to believe some guy who doesn't know my history will decide when I get my knee replaced?

    Government can't solve everything. I they need to accept that reality.

  176. To regain credibility, Obama can start by ending his lies to the American people and stop following his lies with more lies about his lies. When even the lefties at WaPo call out Obama with 3 & 4 Pinocchios in successive weeks, you know his credibility has cratered.

    To focus on jobs, Obama should get out of the way of the shale energy revolution. Cheaper energy will lead to a domestic manufacturing boom as energy is just as costly to industry as labor.

    Regarding foreign policy- Obama is rightfully a laughing stock among allies and foes. Iraq was abandoned to Iran. Libya was abandoned to al-Qaeda. Syria was a huge failure that brought Russia back into the Middle East and wrecked relations with the Saudis. In Egypt Obama is seen as an ally of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. We have lost the Egyptians, who have turned to the Russians as their major ally, for the first time since the 1970s. Obama should clean house and put some people in who are actually competent in foreign affairs.

    Pivot to Asia? So we can get crushed there too?

    Clapper lied. So did Alexander. Hundreds of times. Obama knew about it and did nothing. The requisite authorities have Obama's signature on them. Obama should have defended the operations he authorized. Instead he left the intel community twisting in the wind, while Cheney, as ill as he has been, made a point to defend the programs on national television.

    That's an integrity issue and I don't know that Obama can fix himself on this.

  177. As for as immigration reform is concerned I'm OK with the DREAM Act. We need an educated citizenry. But for Latinos to compare themselves with blacks is nonsense. We forced ourselves on African-Americans. Hispanics have forced themselves on us.

  178. My opinion, Obama is doing just fine, but we as a people fear change. Change comes not easily and, if you try hard, mistakes are always around the corner.

    But, if you never change, that's the biggest mistake.

  179. Mr. Keller, you identified the real problem when you wrote: "it has become hard to get a presidential message out through the media noise machine; the public has not fully grasped that the problem is not everyone, it’s mostly the Republicans."

    American voters in 2014 must remember how House Republican extremists shut down the federal government and took us to the brink of sovereign default. I am less concerned about President Obama's ratings than I am about the future of our country.

  180. Listen to yourself and the illogic of your last recommendation. Washington is dysfunctional, send me Democrats or pragmatic Republicans. If hyper partisanship is the problem in Washington, shouldn't the Presidents message be "teach me, the Republicans and the media how to get along?" Starting with the editorial board at the Times.

  181. Kentucky is your "success??" 70-80% of Kentucky's sign-up were for MediCaid!! All that does is add to the state's liabilities. It does nothing to help the Exchanges.

  182. Mr Keller's "refocus" reminds me of that "LASER" focus on jobs Obama has had off and on... when it was convenient.

    When the lead thing "to do" is firing someone, what does that tell you, Mr Keller. I have been saying that, if the administration fired everyone who deserved it, who will turn out the lights?

    Immigration reform aka amnesty... Now that's a good idea ;o) Few government debacles could rival Obama care but granting amnesty would be very, very close.

    Lastly, the "Obama/Carter revisitation of WW III". Snub Israel, violate countries sovereignty with drone strrikes, lie about Benghazi and generally encourage instability everywhere.

    I can't wait ;o(

  183. I think President Obama 19 days to save his presidency. I am 60 about to be 61. I am on a Cobra plan. I have a few months to get a new policy under the ACA. I completed the application online and I still cannot get my identity verified. If the president does not get this thing fixed by November 30 as promised, he will lose me--a lifelong Democrat and progressive. 19 days.

  184. My health insurance, which I have purchased on the free market for years and have been perfectly happy with, has been cancelled as of January 1. My insurance company claims this is because my plan doesn't meet the minimum requirements under the ACA.

    The coverage missing? Pediatric dental coverage. Never mind that I have no children and could never conceivably need pediatric dental coverage.

    The new plan my insurance company is suggesting? The premium is nearly double of what I currently pay and the deductible is higher.

    What can Obama do? He can start by fixing all of the above.

  185. Democrats, Progressives, Voters! Get mad, get good and mad. We are sick and tired of five years of attacks without a single offer of a solution. We are sick and tired of demonizing women, children, the jobless, the immigrants.
    Please step up to the plate and if necessary take the bully pulpit and slap the bratty kids that call themselves the Tea Party with some of their own medicine.
    A public flogging would do them a lot of good. Make the punishment fit the crime.

  186. How about prosecuting a few bankers?

  187. Start telling the truth

  188. Mr Keller dixit " There is fitful progress in the talks aimed at testing whether Iran’s new president has the will and the authority to put a verifiable lid on that country’s nuclear program."

    Oddly, Bill Keller sounds not hopeful about the US-Iran negotiations to settle the nuclear question. If successful --many observers think it is the best shot since 79 -- a major threat to another Middle East war is removed.

    For the first time in a long time, diplomacy has a chance to solve a major foreign policy question without the use of military power.

    Could Iran be -- according to Bill Keller -- another reason to save the Obama administration from sinking?

  189. I pretty much agree with what you have to say here. But I don't think Obama is doing such a bad job, especially for our first black President. And you yourself are not very credible, as far as I can see.