Rough Seas Ahead

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  July 14, 2010

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) was, clearly, not capable of effective oversight well over a year into Obama's tenure — and that was one office where the need for thorough reform had been well-identified and -documented.

If MMS was still a disaster, surely other, less-obvious problems remain. That means our country continually operates on the knife's edge of similar catastrophes, ready to erupt at any time — as the left has been warning through years of deregulation.

Forward momentum
Obama tried to use the oil catastrophe to reinvigorate the effort to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation — an effort that, so far, has demonstrated how little sway he has at the moment.

The same can be said for other Obama initiatives, including financial regulation, immigration reform, and state funding extensions.

All of these would have been easier to pass if the health-care-reform bill had been passed a year ago, as anticipated, rather than dragging on for another six months — pushing everything else that much closer to the midterm elections.

This may be one downside of Obama's calm, long-view navigation: the limitations on time in a Washington that moves on its own cycles.

There are also limitations to the public's patience. They have waited 18 months for Obama to make them feel better about the condition and direction of their country. Obama has more than two years before he seeks re-election, but less than four months before the perilous deadline of the November midterms — the outcome of which will determine what he can hope to accomplish moving forward.

The rocky road lying ahead, leading up to those elections, will make it all the more difficult to convince voters to make things easier for him.

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to David S. Bernstein can be reached at

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