Jewish World Review July 29, 2011 / 27 Tamuz, 5771
On making deals, Obama is no LBJ
By Jay Ambrose
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Come let us reason together," Lyndon Baines Johnson used to say in negotiating deals everyone thought impossible, and what our current president says when he is not walking out of the room or going back on his word is that the other side is a bunch of children. Boy will that get results.
President Barack Obama is an arrogant mixture of political opportunism mixed with ideological overreaching, and even that might work if he wasn't such an amateur more intent on condescension than reaching compromises crucial in a democratic political system. It's not a formula for success in the real world, and it has been on absolutely scary display during the debt debate.
Let's get back to Johnson because, no matter what you think of a presidency that had serious faults, he was an absolute master of bringing people together to get things done. Part of it, of course, was that this outsized man had an outsized personality that could be ingratiatingly humble when that was the need, or as domineering as an armored tank among tulips when that was required.
The other part was that he had been studying Washington and its people since he first arrived on the scene as a young congressional aide who pretty much ran the golf-playing congressman's office. He knew the workings of the system inside and out, he knew the issues inside and out, he knew the players inside and out.
Johnson used his skill as Democratic Senate majority leader to work harmoniously with the Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower. As president himself, he used the skill to give this country what I believe is the single most important federal law enacted in my lifetime, the 1964 Civil Rights Act. While the moment was right and some things were tamer then, no one should forget the powerful segregationists in his own party during a time of racism far wore than what we know today.
Turn now to Obama, whose training was community organizing, lecturing occasionally, practicing law part time, serving a while in the Illinois Senate and then in the U.S. Senate when he wasn't campaigning for president. He came to his job looking to give us a version of the semi-socialism that has been slowly destroying much of Europe only to be met with the absolute need to reduce government for the sake of a country that can't take much more battering..
Obama's answer to all criticisms was alliteration -- blame Bush -- as joblessness grew and he failed even to lead his fellow Democrats in Congress as they mangled his stimulus and health-care measures, rendering them ridiculous instead of just ill-conceived.
After worsening a truly unfortunate Bush fiscal legacy about two-fold, he appointed a debt commission that came up with solid answers that could have worked for both Democrats and Republicans. He ignored the majority answers, instead giving us a new budget that would so increase the debt over the next 10 years that we would have to sell the country to China. Or something like that.
The Senate Democrats have pleaded the Fifth Amendment on passing any budget for fear that whatever they do could be used against them, and when the Republican House actually took the political chance of passing one to save the nation, Obama took shots at a prime architect, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., as he sat in an audience at the invitation of the president.
Obama's own proposals were mush on the order of his hope and change pledges in his campaign: vague aspirations for goodness and light. He had so much distaste for disagreement, he walked out of one meeting, though he did offer one revenue plan Republican leaders liked before he boosted it by multi-billions. He called the Republicans children for being offended.
I know liberals are livid because Republicans don't want to tax this country into increased joblessness, but for anyone looking at this more objectively, there are two conclusions: Obama is no LBJ, and there is a change we should possibly hope for in the 2012 election.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
• 07/27/11:The threat behind the debt
• 07/23/11: Mean opposition to means-testing
• 07/20/11: Leftist babble makes debt crisis even worse
• 07/18/11: Time to raise demagoguery ceiling
• 07/13/11: Obama treating treaties badly
• 07/08/11: Is decline of U.S. exaggerated?
• 07/05/11: Not math deficiency, but demagoguery
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