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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Get things done now, Barack Obama told

Now that he has reclaimed the US presidency, Barack Obama needs to "think big" and take bold steps both domestically as well as abroad, a Washington Post writer has said.

Quoting Lyndon Johnson's famous comment -- "Well, what the hell's the presidency for?", writer David Ignatius suggested to Obama: "Surprise your adversaries with bold moves and concessions that create new space on which to govern."
"Think big. Take risks. Get it done. Maybe someone should slip a note in Obama's desk drawer that asks: What would Lyndon Johnson have done to make it happen?" Ignatius said on Thursday.

Ignatius said Obama needed a policy equivalent of David Plouffe, the President's senior campaign adviser who ruled early on to focus on nine battleground states to win the Presidential Election.

"He was like a general who concentrates his forces at the points of greatest vulnerability and then prevails through sheer force of will," the writer said.

"Obama's performance as president has often lacked this decisive, strategic quality," he said.

In both foreign and domestic policy, the impression of Obama was "of a careful President who reacts to events, waits for others to make the first moves and plays to avoid losing rather than to win".

Ignatius asked Obama to identify a list of necessary and achievable goals, and then pursue them with the unyielding manipulative skill of a Lyndon Johnson.

His priorities should be changes in social security and medicare and reform of the tax code.

In foreign policy, Obama will need to be equally strategic, Ignatius said.

Here the priorities should be a deal with Iran that verifiably limits its nuclear programme and avoids war; a deal in Afghanistan that averts civil war when US forces leave in 2014; and a deal for a political transition in Syria.

"And, finally, a deal to create a Palestinian state so that Israel has secure borders and the Arab world can get on with the process of becoming modern and democratic."

Ignatius said: "A successful second term is less about ideology than about results."

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