It seems that I read the Washington Post just to get annoyed.  HERE The first thing I did was scroll down to the end to find out something about the authors.  Patrick H. Caddell, who was a pollster and senior adviser to President Jimmy Carter, is a political commentator. Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster who worked for President Bill Clinton, is the author of “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System.”

I disagree with nearly everything they say, particularly their premises:

It is clear that the president is still trying to reach a resolution in his own mind as to what he should do and how he should do it.

This is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

Hmm.  That’s a suspiciously sweeping statement.  They feel that if the President tries for reelection, this will put the country in gridlock.  I think they’ve been ignoring the last two years.  The country is in gridlock and has been been digging itself deeper into gridlock with each passing month.  The authors seem to feel that Barack Obama (indeed any president) can pull the nation out of gridlock all by himself.  This is a team effort, and the opposite team has declared repeatedly that they are not interested in playing.  I also think the statement “It is clear that the president is still trying to reach a resolution” is deeply mistaken.  This candidate/president doesn’t care if his actions indicate anything clearly.  It’s one of the reasons he was so underestimated during the campaign.  Yes, I would be happier with his administration if they were more clear about their intentions, but I’m willing to take what I can get.  I am also disappointed that he has not followed through on the promise he made about Guantanamo.  I think it is important that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is reversed, and he is waffling on that.  I would like to see him fight much harder to let tax cuts expire.

Obama can restore the promise of the election by forging a government of national unity, welcoming business leaders, Republicans and independents into the fold. But if he is to bring Democrats and Republicans together, the president cannot be seen as an advocate of a particular party, but as somebody who stands above politics, seeking to forge consensus. And yes, the United States will need nothing short of consensus if we are to reduce the deficit and get spending under control, to name but one issue.

No one would be able to forge a government of national unity.  Business leaders, republicans and their friends have been invited – to no avail.  The political climate is punishing anyone who tries to move to the center.  No one stands above politics, and the suggestion that anyone could/would/should is RIDICULOUS.  I further don’t believe that there is a consensus about anything.  It is also possible to achieve the administration’s objectives without consensus.  I would urge someone to read Tom Daschle’s comments in the Post on November 7 here To quote:

I am counting on their success, even though I know that divided government can be difficult, complicated and frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you’re running into brick walls all day.

But there are ways it can work, and you don’t need to go too far back in time to find them. In my 26 years in public life, and in my decade as either minority or majority leader of the Senate, I saw how we were able to make things happen. So here are some lessons for both parties, but especially for Democrats, who are looking for ways to dust themselves off and get back to work.

I think the former Majority leader knows more about this subject than the two authors. 

Forgoing another term would not render Obama a lame duck. Paradoxically, it would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans and would make it harder for opponents such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – who has flatly asserted that his highest priority is to make Obama a one-term president – to be uncooperative.

Senator McConnell merely wants Obama’s scalp, for bragging purposes.  It would be (IMHO) stupid for a President to even let McConnell think he’s going to get it.

Moreover, if the president were to demonstrate a clear degree of bipartisanship, it would force the Republicans to meet him halfway. If they didn’t, they would look intransigent, as the GOP did in 1995 and 1996, when Bill Clinton first advocated a balanced budget. Obama could then go to the Democrats for tough cuts to entitlements and look to the Republicans for difficult cuts on defense.




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