During the debate last night we saw so very clearly the two dramatically differing philosophies on how to make things happen in our government. The difference between the experience of Governor Romney who successfully navigated a democratic legislature contrasted with the lack of results posted by the current President of the United States.
Perhaps the most powerful indicator of the President’s philosophy was demonstrated after Governor Romney described how he worked cooperatively with a Massachusetts legislature dominated by the Democratic Party to produce many successful results. President Obama’s follow-up discussion was laced prominently with the term “fight”, describing how he had his fights with the legislature; fights President Obama said needed to happen. The President views these exchanges as fights to be won rather than solutions to be developed together. For President Obama, “open to reason and debate” means “I will explain my position so you can agree with me.” Even within the President’s own party he has very few allies. Eleanor Clift’s recent post in the Daily Beast contained the following statements :
“… Obama doesn’t have many friends on Capitol Hill in either party. He has allies for sure but hasn’t worked to develop personal relationships. Some think this is a fatal flaw…”
“One adviser who did not want to be quoted recalls gently suggesting Obama might want to invest more personal time in courting members of Congress. “He looked at me like I was telling him to do 10 root canals.”
Nancy Pelosi has even muted the President during meetings while he was speaking to the room! Russell Berman of “The Hill” posted:
“In one scene during negotiations over the 2009 economic stimulus package, Woodward reports that when Obama called then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to discuss the bill, she put the president on speakerphone so that the group of Democratic lawmakers in her office could hear him, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Why has the President failed to develop relationships and why has he alienated so many democrats and republicans alike? Simply, because he doesn’t think it is important and he hasn’t been willing to sacrifice his work-life balance to forge these relationships and help move our country forward. Work-life balance is commendable, but every President should know going into the job how demanding it will be. That is part of the sacrifice expected from our President as part of his service to us, the voters.
“Fight” and ram through legislation only when you have a majority? Or work together to craft lasting, bilateral solutions. It seems like an easy choice to me. I will take the person who is willing to work with an individual regardless of his or her political inclination and respects the opinions of all. America deserves it.