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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 6, 2013/ 26 Iyar, 5773 , 5773

The limited power of presidents

By David Shribman




JewishWorldReview.com | You can hear the huffing from here. It began with the budget battle, reached a cruel crescendo with the gun vote and culminated in the question the president was asked at his press conference last week about whether he'd run out of "juice" to advance his agenda: Barack Obama isn't strong like Richard Nixon. He can't strong-arm like Franklin Roosevelt. He's afraid to pressure like Bill Clinton. No one's afraid of him like Lyndon Johnson.

It's bunk.

The hoariest piece of folklore in the capital involves presidential strength and the fear it inspires, and the commentary always goes like this: Presidents of the past had it, and the current president doesn't.

Dwight Eisenhower, today almost everybody's idea of a strong president, heard it. Harry Truman, who supposedly gave 'em hell, heard it. And there were days when LBJ heard it, too -- because Johnson's bullying days all but ended when he left the Senate and entered the executive branch. He bullied as Senate majority leader, he bleated as vice president, and he beseeched as president.

Today the Greek chorus is singing that Mr. Obama should have had an easy time bringing the Senate around on the gun bill. Might I whisper this in the ear of all those whinging and whining?: This might say more about the Senate and its traditions than about the president and his prerogatives.

The disparity between the 80-plus percent who in some polls supported gun-sale background checks and the 54 percent of the Senate that supported the legislation is astonishing, perhaps without precedent. So maybe the president could have done a better job. Maybe Mr. Obama was too reasonable -- you hear that word a lot in connection with the 44th president -- and not sufficiently forceful -- a word you rarely hear about Mr. Obama.

But that is not his way, and one of the reasons the president has trouble prevailing with Congress is that many lawmakers simply don't like him. Ronald Reagan they liked. Bill Clinton, too. George H.W. Bush had his congressional allies, lots of them, and his son had a few, or enough. But the irony is that Barack Obama, the first man to go directly from the Senate to the White House since John F. Kennedy (and Warren G. Harding before him), doesn't have many friends in the Congress he left behind.

That is not to say that Mr. Obama hasn't had some congressional triumphs, including the economic stimulus and the victory that may be his most enduring legacy: the health-insurance bill that his opponents call Obamacare, a label his supporters may adopt if the plan becomes a popular success. (The term "Reaganomics" started as a pejorative and eventually became a phrase Republicans embraced with pride.)

But the president's troubles have nothing to do with the fear factor, mostly because the fear factor is a fantasy.

Perhaps the president who had the most success with a Congress controlled by the other party was Reagan, who used to say that almost anything could be done if the president didn't care who got credit for the accomplishment.

That is why he was willing to share the spotlight on his biggest second-term domestic initiative, the 1986 comprehensive overhaul of the income-tax system. He didn't flinch when Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, urged Americans in a nationally televised address to "write Rosty" about their ideas about tax overhaul.

And once the battle was joined, the president used persuasion rather than power to win approval of the measure. A case in point was the way he reeled GOP Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin into his camp. Mr. Kasten had an independent streak -- he had quarreled with Majority Leader Robert J. Dole of Kansas, which one didn't see every day in that era -- and so Reagan scheduled two speeches in Mr. Kasten's home state.

"No threats," says Peter Robinson, who wrote the Reagan speeches, which were heavy on sweet reason masked as sweet talk. "Reagan just went to Kasten's home and persuaded the senator's constituents." Mr. Kasten voted for the measure.

Nor did Richard Nixon, regarded in retrospect as a fearsome pugilist, employ fear in his pre-Watergate dealings with Congress.

"Nixon knew how to deal with Wilbur Mills and Russell Long," former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget in those days, said of the former chairmen of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees. "It wasn't about vindictive narrow partisanship -- on either side. These guys detested Watergate, but earlier in his administration, they respected Nixon."

Historical legends warp our perspective on the presidency. In the folkore, Johnson was a political Magus, wielding irresistible power from the Oval Office over the Congress. Not so, at least in foreign affairs, where presidents have the widest latitude.

It is true that LBJ won wide running room from Congress by virtue of the huge majorities (414-0 in the House, 88-2 in the Senate) in support of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which permitted the president to take all necessary measures to fight North Vietnam.

But Johnson's closest Capitol Hill mentor, Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, expressed reservations about the administration's Vietnam policy as early as 1964. By 1966, efforts to revoke the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution began.

That same year, Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas began holding critical hearings on the war, an undertaking that enraged LBJ and led him to refer to the Arkansas Democrat as Senator Half-bright, a name that originated with Harry Truman after Fulbright took issue with the 33rd president's views on the atomic bomb and the United Nations.

The danger in applying brute force to Capitol Hill is that Congress has weapons of its own.

Franklin Roosevelt in his second term tried to purge the Democratic Party of conservative lawmakers who opposed the New Deal, not knowing of course that those very conservatives would be ardent supporters of his polices, particularly Lend-Lease, as World War II approached. He actually campaigned against a number of Southern Democrats, especially Walter F. George of Georgia and Ellison D. "Cotton Ed" Smith of South Carolina, both of whom prevailed -- and neither of whom ever feared the president again.

The president who had earlier campaigned against "fear itself" came to know what all presidents eventually learn: Fear itself is no weapon at all.

Comment by clicking here.

David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Previously:



04/29/13 Living history on display
04/22/13 Social Security, 21st-century style: Dems call Obama a traitor
04/15/13 49 years, four months, 25 days: Today's America is as far removed from JFK's era as his was from World War I
04/08/13 The Senate as it once was
04/01/13 Connections and coincidence: History is full of mysterious relationships, including clusters of greatness
03/25/13 Where portraits tell the story of America's greatest conflict
03/18/13 A former president's correspondence reveals the power of letters, and the powerlessness of aging
03/11/13 Outrageous spectacle lead to a rational resolution on the budget? A nation can dream, can't it?
02/25/13 The one big thing Democrats and Republicans can actually agree on
02/18/13 Obama is wrong to make young people think college is mainly about making a living
02/11/13 The war inside the GOP
02/04/13 Presidential politics, frozen in place
01/28/13 Speech invokes past for present and future
01/14/13 If Obama's inaugural address is to be remembered at all
01/21/13 Identity crisis in the GOP
01/07/13 History meets firearms
12/31/12 In search of our better angels
12/24/12 Wounded in war, Inouye just kept serving his country
12/10/12 President as change agent
12/10/12 Another overtime election
12/03/12 Defining the Obama presidency: Our re-elected chief executive has the whip hand now, but how will he use
11/19/12 New Hampshire 2016
11/12/12 Obama's second chance
11/05/12 America's first martyr to free speech
10/29/12 Making hay in Iowa
10/15/12 When two men confronted each other from afar as civilization hung in the balance
10/08/12 If you look at the election a certain way, things don't seem so terrible
10/01/12 Debating the debates
09/24/12 Pessimists R Us
08/20/12 Obama remains a puzzle even as he asks the American people for a second chance
08/13/12 With Ryan, Romney upends the conversation
08/06/12 The real Romney remains hidden behind other people's opinions
07/30/12 What summer is for: How August can matter, and how Romney might use it
07/23/12 The Independent son of independent Maine promises to shake up Washington
07/16/12 The Rambler American
07/09/12 The Telstar revolution: Fifty years ago, a 3-foot orb was sent aloft and spawned a new era in communications
07/02/12 It's got only four electoral votes, but Romney and Obama will be fighting for them
06/25/12 A little noted rebellion over a lonely stretch of land helps tell the American story
06/18/12 You're nothing special: Luck is what you make of it . . . and what it makes of you
06/11/12 Anybody can talk authoritatively about the presidential election. Here's how
06/04/12 Candidates love to ally themselves with admired presidents, in sometimes unexpected ways
05/29/12 Americans aren't in a new burst of patriotism but they are in a new burst of appreciation for the military
05/21/12 Inside out: Almost nothing about this year's presidential election conforms to conventional analysis
05/14/12 Lugar grew into an elder statesman, which is why he'll be leaving the Senate
05/07/12 50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire
04/30/12 The likability factor: We're going to find out how important it is in these troubled times
04/23/12 Romney's four battles: With the nomination essentially in hand, he must turn to new challenges
04/16/12 For GOPers, expect the frustration to build, not abate
04/09/12 The political battles you cannot see
04/02/12 Romney's roadmap: Doing better in Democratic states may complicate his fall campaign
03/26/12 Romney struggles with same GOP forces his father faced long ago
03/19/12 The writer and the president
03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar





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