Matthews: Obama needs to give us ‘purpose’


A poll published last year asked people to name the president they would most like to see added to the four now on Mount Rushmore. Whom do we want up there with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and, most of all, Teddy Roosevelt? Most said Kennedy.

President Obama promised us a presidency like Kennedy’s, a transformative one.  But to win a second term, the only way he’ll achieve this goal, is to paint a picture of what he intends to do with that extended lease on his presidency. He needs to give us purpose.

We knew what Kennedy wanted to do, where he was going. He showed us his dreams right there in his programs: the push for the civil rights bill, the Peace Corps, the space program, nuclear-arms control, winning the Cold War without war.

What are President Obama’s dreams? If there were no Tea Party, no Eric Cantor, where would he take us? He needs to tell us.

The day before he was killed, President Kennedy spoke in San Antonio about how little Irish boys would get themselves to climb over high walls by first throwing their caps over.  That would force them to have to go over the wall get them back.

What is missing in the Obama presidency is that spirit of adventure, of common purpose, that sense of mission.

If the election of 2012 is about the past-who got us into this mess, who is to blame-then the verdict will be mixed. If it’s about how bad things are, the verdict will be simple, negative and unfortunate for the incumbents but if it’s about the future? Right there is the prospect for Obama. He needs to be taking us somewhere. What does he want with a second term? Tell us. Draw a picture. Mr. President, throw a cap over that wall.

This is the first weekend that my book “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” is in the bookstores. When you read it, you’ll understand how great it was to have a historic hero in the White House.

John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama and Hardball Let Me Finish

Matthews: Obama needs to give us 'purpose'