Is Obama Tough Enough?

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 18, 2009 11:00am

It’s a question that has been circling the politicos lately and crystallized by the National Journal. Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley said in that article that, “Obama has created an atmosphere of no fear.” Some critics believe as president he “lacks the punch” and that his agenda is tackling too many big items, so how does the White House fends off claims that Obama is too laid-back to be vengeful. Even Saturday Night Live got into the act with an Obama-Incredible Hulk parody.   
I asked the White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, in our EXCLUSIVE interview this morning on ‘This Week’, if it’s time for the President to get tough. Axelrod said the President is, “tough enough.”

Here’s our full exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that what the president needs to do?  Is it time for him to get tough?

AXELROD:  Well, look, George, I think, if the president weren't tough, we wouldn't be where we are vis-a-vis trying to deal with the economy, two wars, and some — remember what he inherited here.  He walked in the door, we had the worst economy since the Great Depression.  He had to take immediate steps to pull us back from what many thought might be a Great Depression.  He had to sort out in Afghanistan a war where we had seven years of drift and no policy. And he passed a series of things that are going to move this country forward, from children's health care to pay equity for women, a series of things.

AXELROD: "This Congress has passed more legislation in the first term of this president than any president in our lifetime.  So I think he has been plenty tough.  I think people want toughness, but they also want to have thoughtful leadership.  And that — and that requires reviewing these issues, thinking them through clearly, and bringing people along, and that's what he's doing."

And watch our roundtable take up the question of toughness:

- George Stephanopoulos

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