Sam Bain, Columnist
Ideology: Conservative | Writing from: Ohio

Credit: Pete Souza/White House Flickr

Who is Barack Obama?

A few simple answers to that question is that he is the president, a Democrat, a leader; but when push comes to shove, do we really know who this man is; do we really know what he believes?

Sure, there is the conventional wisdom that suggests he is a very left wing liberal, and for the most part, he has delivered on that definition. Health care, the stimulus and more recently the DREAM Act are all examples of big government and outlandish liberal spending policies. Even throughout these actions, he has shown a side that is not necessarily liberal, but certainly not conservative either.

During every major event of his two-year presidency, Obama has not led, but only reacted to criticism. When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, he did not meet with Tony Hayward or even visit the coast until after he was called out by James Carville and Spike Lee. When health-care reform was put forth, he let Congress run wild with it. The only leadership on his part was the day he signed in the bill. Even his beloved public option plan, the cornerstone of health-care reform that he had been championing for years, was lost in the political firestorm.

Countless times, Obama campaigned on letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans, only to falter on that promise and extend them for 24 months. While some conservatives are happy, his base is enraged. Never mind the fact that he has yet to close Guantanamo Bay or that DADT has been tossed to the way side, the tax deal was the cream of the crop.

As hard left as he is, the president is no longer just disappointing the right, but even more so the left. Just this week, the New York Times and Politico both published articles of possible primary challenges to Obama’s 2012 re-election bid. These rumors have been circulated before, but mostly due to Obama’s dipping approval ratings. Now they are resurfacing because of policy differences within the Democratic Party. It is not that president disagrees with his own party; he just feels it necessary to do what is politically expedient for him. If this includes sliding back and forth on issues to try and please whatever demographic or independent voters he may need, then so be it.

George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign was essentially run on the fact that much of the electorate disagreed with him, but they still knew who he was. “Whether you agree with me or not, you know where I stand” was a quote used by Bush over and over again. It reverberated with voters. They knew that in times of crisis and uncertainty that, at the very least, their president was a strong leader with a backbone of set values.

Initially during the immediate aftermath of the midterm elections, the pundits all had an opinion as to whether this president would remain on the hard left or move closer to the center as Clinton did. For those still in question, I would suggest not to expect either. Sure, he compromised a bit within the tax deal, but he also compared the GOP to hostage takers and said he was ready take on Republicans next year. It appears there is still some grit left to fight the opposition—depending on the current polls of course.

Continuing down this path of reacting and not leading is only going to anger everyone, eventually including the administration itself. The GOP whose power only resides in the House will have to battle with compromise for the sake of taking what they can get or doing their best to make Obama a one-term president. The left is angered enough already about what Obama has failed to do and they can only take so much more. Obama is failing to realize that his current trajectory of leadership will either land him a primary challenge or his own defeat come November 2012.

Politically speaking the Democratic Party really does not win here. For the nation as a whole, the turnout could be worse. Stable, unwavering and steadfast leadership is what is needed in a very volatile economy. The impulsive and unpredictable leadership style of the current administration has made a bad economy worse and ripped a tear in the fabric of America because whether you agree with the president or not, you don’t know where he stands.