Tuesday, April 23, 2013

President Obama and arm twisting or lack thereof.

I thought this article in the New York Times has an interesting take on President Obama.  He's not usually willing to resort to arm twisting to achieve his political goals.  I suspect those around him are at times but it strikes me his temperament isn't there.  Reason, logic are what he gravitates towards.  The result?  A less effective presidency.  I think that will be the order of the day through the rest of his presidency unless Democrats regain control of the House.

On the other hand, he could position himself to make substantial changes if he's willing to work with Republicans to get control of our deficits, debt and entitlements.  But that would mean crossing his base and his own inclinations.  However, presidents also want a legacy and that will only be achieved by significant accomplishments.  I doubt that Obamacare will stand the test of time.  It looks to be unworkable and will have to be significantly changed or discarded.
...After more than four years in the Oval Office, the president has rarely demonstrated an appetite for ruthless politics that instills fear in lawmakers. That raises a broader question: If he cannot translate the support of 90 percent of the public for background checks into a victory on Capitol Hill, what can he expect to accomplish legislatively for his remaining three and a half years in office?

Robert Dallek, a historian and biographer of President Lyndon B. Johnson, said Mr. Obama seems “inclined to believe that sweet reason is what you need to use with people in high office.” That contrasts with Johnson’s belief that “what you need to do is to back people up against a wall,” Mr. Dallek said.

“Obama has this more reasoned temperament,” he said. “It may well be that it’s not the prescription for making gains. It raises questions about his powers of persuasion.”

Some supporters said the imperative of the moment requires more force from Mr. Obama. “He needs to turn up the heat every way he can and every chance he gets because it’s not political points or poll numbers that are at stake but lives,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who has sponsored a gun control bill in the House.

The White House on Monday defended the president’s efforts on the gun legislation, saying he had made a vigorous effort to lobby wavering senators. “He made numerous phone calls and had numerous meetings,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “And his entire team here engaged in this process completely and thoroughly.”

But the president has long struggled to master his relationship with Congress. During his first two and a half years in office, he favored what aides called an inside approach, working quietly in back rooms to convince lawmakers of the logic of his positions. That worked better when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, and he passed legislation to expand health care, regulate Wall Street and spend hundreds of billions of dollars to stimulate the economy.

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