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Obama and Nutter – Two skippers with that sinking feeling

Sunday, September 26th, 2010



What might the conversation be like if Barack Obama and Michael Nutter cracked open a bottle of Yard’s ale together?  In today’s Center Square commentary, Chris Satullo suggests they could compare notes on a lot of woes.

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I have it on pretty good authority that Barack Obama isn’t fond of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

That’s what happens when a mayor backs a president’s opponent in a key state primary.

It’s too bad, because the two could have an interesting chat over beers.  Each finds himself in a similar fix.

Each rode to victory on the enthusiasm of idealistic, younger voters who were avid for reform.  Unfortunately, those young fans were naïve about how reform happens in the real world. Which is to say, slowly and messily.

As practical politicians, Obama and Nutter knew that, to get anything done, you have to horse-trade with the protectors of the status quo.   If you don’t, the legislative pashas know how to thwart you at every turn.  But their young fans were shocked by the sight of the sausage getting made.

Then again, Obama and Nutter did fuel unrealistic expectations, with all the oratorical crescendos about change and the frisky ads about turning City Hall upside down and shaking out the bums like so many flakes of oregano.

Each has compounded their woes through clumsy political messaging.  Their inability to tell a coherent, compelling story about what they’re doing means their considerable successes are less understood and less discussed than their stumbles.

Most of all, each gets hammered from all corners of the political ballyard for the pain of a bad economy that is, truth be told, neither’s fault.   Each has grappled reasonably well – not masterfully, but reasonably well – with the bad economic hands they were dealt.   But neither gets much credit for that.  In these anxious times, people just fixate on the lousy cards.

Obama has to put up with more nonsense and defamation. Nobody questions Nutter’s birth, his religion, or likens him to a goose-stepper or a gulag-maker.   On the other hand, Nutter has to put up with John Street.

Bottom line,  each man is termed a disappointment, even by friends. Each, I think, is being unfairly judged.  Each, I predict, will find a way to be re-elected – given how flawed their potential opponents are.

The real question is whether they can ever regain the mojo that once had us thinking they were something special.


2 Comments

  • Furious Philadelphian says:

    Nutter is a terrible Mayor. His answer to solving the budget crisis is to have goon squads of parking cops and Stalinesque trash inspectors hand out massive numbers of tickets for everything from bogus traffic violations to trash and weed violations without giving the citizens any practical recourse to contest them. He has failed miserably in reducing crime, our city is fast becoming the next Detroit under his watch. We need a pro-business Mayor to revitalize our city before all those fancy new restaurants start closing down and the decent hardworking citizens who bear the brunt of his aggressive citation policies flee to more citizen friendly communities. This guy must go ASAP. And by the way, I was fooled into voting for him the first time. And no one I know who did plans to vote for him again.

  • No Rats Jumping here says:

    Each are somthing special, and in each case the alternative to these men in their respective offices are something very much left not to be desired…and the relationship between the two (administrations at least) is not as bad as one might think…Philly does better than most. Nice to have back channels….

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