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Fraser Smith's Essay: January 17, 2013
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January 17, 2013
President Obama and Governor O'Malley face leadership challenges shaped by their political circumstances. WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments in his weekly essay.
The President says he wants gun control measures that will make the nation safer. That objective – and not the pro-gun forces, he said – will guide him in the wake of the unspeakable carnage in Newtown, Connecticut.
Many in this country applaud. Obama is promising to focus on the need to protect 6-year-olds – and the rest of us – from horrendous crimes.
The political situation is paradoxical. Prospects are not good – but probably better than ever. Obama has less to lose (a second term, for example). He won so he has a stronger political hand. He has the leverage of Newtown.
Whatever the prospects, political leaders must be willing to fail in the interest of doing the right thing. This President has been accused of falling back in various fights before the fight begins. No more of that on this one, he says.
Governor O’Malley has the luxury in Maryland of almost certain success for his effort to resurrect the assault weapon ban.
He also wants a ban on the death penalty. He wants a wind turbine bill and he wants a way to finance highway construction – something that might require a higher gasoline tax.
In service to his widely perceived run for President, it is said, he may wish to avoid any defeats. It may be naïve to suggest such a thing, but good leadership dictates taking on some difficult issues – risking defeat, in other words.
Why wouldn’t he present himself to the American people as a man who worked hard for the things that mattered most to his constituents in Maryland – even if they don’t all make it through the political thicket.
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