The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


October 15, 2012

John Sullivan, guest columnist: Obama must move past mulligan in first debate

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The presidential campaign has suddenly been gripped by Big Bird fever. Hopefully, it is a non-fatal, passing affliction, because there is lots more at stake this year than the survival of Public Broadcasting. The future of the health care needs of the 47 percent of our less affluent citizens hangs in the balance. The future of Social Security; the future of Medicare; the future direction of the United States Supreme Court; these all hang in the balance, too.

It’s not enough to ignore your opponent when he is on stage with you, then castigate him on the campaign trail the next day. President Obama has to fight for what he believes in. He needs to confront Mitt Romney with his own mendacity. Hubris is a fatal affliction for politicians, and Obama has to shake his hubristic bubble and show Americans that he wants to renew his lease on the Oval Office.

Starting out the first debate by admitting that he would rather have been somewhere else on his wedding anniversary was not only shooting himself in the foot, it was a clear admission that he may be suffering from lack-of-fire-in-the-belly syndrome, which may prove fatal if left untreated. He has to realize he can’t speechify his way to a second term, nor can he teleprompt his way back to political hegemony.

Obama has to Trumanize himself. He has to exorcise the demons of another Illinois politician, Adlai Stevenson, who he seems to harbor in his inner psyche. Stevenson was often more right than wrong, and he was an excellent lecturer. But he just couldn’t win national elections.

Obama has to understand, in his core being, that the bloom is off the rose, and he has to fight to get it back. The debate flop was only a reminder to his support base that this is not the first time he has caved to a Republican. He did it when he abandoned the public option in the health care debate, and we wound up with “Obamacare”, which he has been too often recalcitrant to full-throatedly defend. He caved to Republicans by renewing the Bush tax cuts, and had to cave again to get the debt ceiling lifted. He has to find his internal Rubicon River and throw down the gauntlet to his Republican opposition, drawing a firm line in the sand.

Fortunately, Obama has another chance to do so in the second presidential debate. Failure to do so could be fatal. All eyes will be on the Long Island lollapalooza of political debates on Oct. 16.

He had better be ready — no going off to visit Jones Beach during his debate preparation time. The Hoover Dam visit was a symptom of hubris, and any diversion from his need to focus and stand ground in the debate could be fatal next time. It’s time for him to call out his opponent’s phoniness and flip floppery

You have had your mulligan, Mr. President. Stand firm, tee off and aim directly for the pin.

John T. Sullivan Jr. lives in Pittsburg, Kan.

Text Only
  • Other Views Other Views: Eroding court’s authority

    While Kansans were focused on the twists and turns of school finance this past week, lawmakers made an unnecessary and historic change in how the state’s district courts operate, coercively tying the reforms to badly needed funding.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Travesty

    What a travesty that a terrific young man from Spain is on the verge of deportation even though he has proven his worth in America (Globe, April 13).

    April 18, 2014

  • Your View: Astonishing transformation

    The transformation of the Republican Party in the last decade is astonishing.

    April 18, 2014

  • Your View: The changing view

    It is heartbreaking to hear the decades old trees (which border on South Pennsylvania in Webb City) cracking and being bulldozed down.

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Safe and sound

    Of the 7,500 Joplin and Duenweg homes hit by the 2011 EF-5 tornado, fewer than 20 percent of them had basements.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other Views Other Views: Funding for state’s roads

    Missouri is finding there is no good alternative to growing the economy, adding new well-paying jobs and expanding the tax base.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Government without apology or explanation

    Americans feel closest to their Uncle Sam at this time of year as he extends his hand for his “fair share” to fund his numerous endeavors.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Step aside

    The people of Joplin made it clear they wanted change at City Hall with their decisive votes to replace two council members.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Serious drawbacks

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) lays out clearly and persuasively the serious drawbacks with so-called right-to-work legislation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Free choice

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) regarding right-to-work seems to assume that if workers are given the choice of joining a union, they won’t join.

    April 16, 2014

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter

Missouri Republicans are considering a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing laws the state considers to be infringements on gun rights: barring them from future careers in state law enforcement agencies. Do you think this proposal has merit?

     View Results
NDN Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest