To the editor:
I read with great interest the long, articulate letter from Joe D'Amore, "No precedent for this president," in The Daily News of Sept. 6. Mr. D'Amore is a powerful writer indeed, with a great command of our language — not at all a common thing in today's world of instant messaging and tweeting. My only problem with his letter is that, after several careful readings, I am really not entirely sure what he is saying, other than that he doesn't like Mr. Obama as president.
For example, Mr. D'Amore writes, "This president has failed in all the critical areas that are exclusive to his office ... . Specifically, he has failed to inspire confidence, has compromised with malice and persuaded with pandering." Nowhere in the Constitution do I read that it is exclusively the president's job to "inspire confidence." "Compromised with malice"? He did cave in to the radical right's demands in order to prevent a debt ceiling default. That's a compromise, if not a surrender. But I'm not at all sure Eric Cantor and his followers are malicious. To be sure, I believe them to be seriously misguided — but malicious? I would not throw that accusation against them. "Persuaded with pandering"? I suppose one could argue he was "pandering" when he made what he thought was a budget-deficit deal with Boehner — but then Boehner walked under pressure from the tea party-goers. No "persuasion" there, sadly.
Mr. D'Amore accuses the president of glaring "dereliction of duty" — but of what duty has he been derelict? The president cannot legislate nor can he adjudicate. He can only try to persuade the Congress to enact his proposals. He has surely been unable to persuade the House of Representatives of anything since the 2010 elections gave the Republicans control, but he has tried. One can argue that he has not tried hard enough, that he should not have seemed so willing to compromise, in short, that he is not a tough negotiator. But not being a successful negotiator is scarcely "dereliction of duty."
Mr. D'Amore writes fervently, "In the American epic, there has never been such a chasm between a brutal reality and an uncertain future." I suggest that he ignores the Civil War — a "chasm" in which President Lincoln was accused of many of the same derelictions and failures that Mr. D'Amore now asserts of Mr. Obama. Yes, we've been here before. And, as in the case of the Civil War, "atonement will be borne by the citizenry" — which is as it should be, for the citizens elected the president and elected those members of Congress who regard defeating the president as their most important goal, more important than restoring the economy and a civil society.
Peter L. Albrecht