It seems that Hope really is just a town in Arkansas. Though I am not a fan of Barack Obama’s policies, one of the things that was appealing about his campaign was his hopeful, uplifting tone. Not since Ronald Reagan had a national candidate delivered greater rhetoric about the possibilities and potential.
But now, as President, Barack Obama seems to have resorted to the politics of fear. Administration official after administration official — and even the President himself — talk about how bad things are and how they could well get worse. Some have even bandied about the dreaded “D” word (depression).
The intent seems likely to be an attempt to lower expectations, an undeniably important step since the enthusiasm for the new presidency had begun to exceed all good reason. Yet there is a fine balance that must be struck between lowering expectations and further demoralizing the American people.
The Obama Administration now risks a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since much, though certainly not all, of the current economic crisis is rooted in a lack of confidence on the part of consumers and companies alike. While there are no doubt structural changes the federal government and others can make to help improve the situation, a key component to stimulating the economy and helping it to recover must be boosting those conficence levels.
It would be imprudent to suggest that Obama make everything seem like it is coming up roses. Clearly, it is not. But it would be reassuring for him to deploy his considerable oratorical skills to paint a picture of hope and optimism instead of extolling the politics of gloom and doom.