Friday, January 6, 2012

Boehner is not the only one crying

A House divided.

A year to the day since Ohio’s John Boehner and 87 eager freshmen took Washington by storm, House Republicans are bruised from battle, irritated with each other and have lost trust in their leadership.

The president whose agenda they came to Washington to stop is vowing to spend the year scoring political points against Republicans now, and they don’t have much leverage against him.

Now, they’re trying to figure out how to revamp their agenda to find much needed political and policy victories in advance of the November election.

As I began reading the news this morning I couldn't help thinking about how things felt a year ago. Those relfections are what promoted my first post today about President Obama as legislator, negotiator and fighter.

Things did look pretty bleak in the aftermath of the 2010 election. I remember conversing on-line with liberals, blue dogs and conservatives...all of whom were having a field day blaming everything under the sun on President Obama (many of them, in all their cluelessness, still are).

But in the intervening 12 months, we've begun to see the effects of short-term thinking as a power grab. The Republicans pandered to their extremist base - which worked during a time of economic stress and a midterm election. They had their moment in the sun with that strategy and now its coming back to haunt them - both in Congress as well as the Presidential election.

Through all that, President Obama has remained his own cool self, continued to fight the good fight, and kept his eye on the North Star.

So, my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there, what is helping people live out their lives; what is giving them more opportunity; what is growing the economy; what is making us more competitive. At any given juncture there are going to be times that my preferred option, what I am absolutely, positively sure is right, I can’t get done. And so then, my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or that way because I am keeping my eye on the long-term and the long fight. Not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long-term.

That's the turtle telling us how slow and steady wins the race.


  1. Smartypants, Dear,

    I've watched fly-off-the-handle dems lose to republicans since I cast my first vote in my first year of college (1971-'72,) and it seems that they have learned nothing since then because they keep repeating the same mistakes. PBO is a new kind of politician: a thinker, a planner, and a long term strategist. IMHO, as long as certain persons on the Left are led by their emotions to act out in weird ways for almost no reason, they have no right to ridicule tea partiers or republicans, because when they do, they're ridiculing themselves.

  2. I was talking about PBO yesterday with a court clerk who's a big fan. At one point I told him Obama's strategy will become part of the curriculum in classes on political dynamics in the future. He seems to have studied game theory, or perhaps has an intuitive grasp of it. Personally, I think he's a brilliant political mind who sets up principle positions and then fallback positions in event of failure and often keeps a surgical strike position in his back pocket. An example is this dispute over the recess appointments. He did EVERYTHING he could to get the Congress to bring his appointments to a vote and having failed was then in a position where he could safely launch his surgical strike - he only filled the most pressing positions in agencies that literally COULD NOT meet their mandates without the appointments. Using Republican obstructionism against them he let them bring it to a point where achievement of his own constitutional obligation to fill agency positions so the agencies could perform their mandates had become impossible. This makes his constitutional position far more solid should it come to a lawsuit.

    He can do this because he's capable of a level of play which does not involve him getting all the credit. In other words, his self-effacement is a strength because he does not need to be constantly validated and reinforced. This is very interesting, because the ONLY way to hold the position he holds and to be capable of the awesome responsibility it demands is to have a supremely confident self-image or ego. He has a huge ego without being egotistical. He KNOWS he's the best, but he's not big-headed about it and this is why he can play the role of aikido President.

  3. CFWard57

    Amazing comment - thank you!

    On the game theory idea, I always think about the fact that Obama studied and taught about power relations after his time as a community organizer. So I suspect that his strategizing is more than intuitive.

    And the way I look at it, its the egotists who are in fact insecure. PBO spent a lot of time struggling to find an identity with which he could be secure (ie, "Dreams from My Father"). I think that's where his confidence comes from.

  4. majii

    Before this era is over, I sincerely hope that PBO will have taught liberals how to win again.

  5. Patience is a thing I'm learning from this particular president. Legally the executive moves he's making could have been done long ago. But by strategic plays and some patience on his part, the PUBLIC now sees the R's voting against tax cuts and fillibustering a nominee not because of his credentials but because they want to nullify the very law. Perhaps it's a piece with that whole "leading from behind" strategy.