An interesting dialogue with Obama about his tussle with the Republicans over the stimulus bill, courtesy Bob Herbert's op-ed piece in the NYT.

“Now, I have to say that given that they were running the show for a pretty long time prior to me getting there, and that their theory was tested pretty thoroughly and it’s landed us in the situation where we’ve got over a trillion-dollars’ worth of debt and the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, I think I have a better argument in terms of economic thinking.”
He also made it clear that he won’t let his desire for bipartisanship undermine important initiatives. “I’m an eternal optimist,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I’m a sap.”

Bob goes on to write:

He was relaxed and had complete command of a range of complex issues, including the troubled banking sector, health care reform and the need to do more in terms of innovative education initiatives. But beyond his specific policies (and whether one supports them or not), Mr. Obama is emerging as the very model of the type of person one would want in high public office. He is intelligent, mature, thoughtful, calm in the face of crises and, if the nation is lucky, maybe even wise. 
Indeed! Just what the doctor would have ordered for this ailing nation. There's more good stuff in the article:

When asked about the sharp drop in the stock markets after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced an expanded bank bailout plan last week, Mr. Obama replied:
“I am not planning based on a one-day market reaction. In fact, you can argue that a lot of the problems we’re in have to do with everybody planning based on one-day market reactions, or three-month market reactions, and as a consequence nobody was taking the long view.

“My job is to help the country take the long view — to make sure that not only are we getting out of this immediate fix, but we’re not repeating the same cycle of bubble and bust over and over again; that we’re not having the same energy conversation 30 years from now that we had 30 years ago; that we’re not talking about the state of our schools in the exact same ways we were talking about them in the 1980s; and that at some point we say, ‘You know what? If we’re spending more money per-capita on health care than any nation on earth, then you’d think everybody would have coverage and we would see lower costs for average consumers, and we’d have better outcomes.’ ”
Amen to that!


Near the end of the interview, the president said that there are certain moments in history when significant change is possible.
“It’s not a certainty,” he said, “but it’s possible.”
He said he believed that it’s very difficult for any single individual to actually set that kind of “momentum” for change in motion. But when that historical wave is there, he said, “I think you can help guide it.”
When asked if we are in one of those moments now, he said, “Yes. I firmly believe that.” 

Bob Herbert, like me, is by all means, a big O-fan and yet, given that its been only a month (less!) since Obama took office, I think its a bit too early to celebrate Obama's wins or by the same token talking about "the shine coming off"!!

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