The parliamentary presidency
Moderates — including moderate conservatives who, I think, are even more “moderate” than yours truly — have had it with President Obama. Liberals, at first disappointed with what had encouraged those moderates, are really unhappy now.
Of course, none of this makes conservative conservatives happy. But you don’t need me for links about that.
All this is bad enough, but now the news that the only ones who really know what’s good for America — non-Americans — are annoyed at or otherwise down on the President is leaving us wonder who, exactly, he has left, besides Congressional Democrats.
And that raises a question that was asked of me a couple of weeks back when I had my monthly or so shift on Pajamas Media’s blogger roundtable thingy. “Who’s running the show here?” was the question from Joe Hicks. “Congress or the President?”
My answer then, and I’m as certain of it now as I was then: There is no difference. There is a good reason people prefer governors to members of either house of Congress as President. They’re executives, not only experienced in running things besides a legislative staff, but able to say no to legislature. They know how to separate their agendas and goals from those of their parties and caucuses, and don’t see the capturing the White House as merely the extinction of the veto threat. Indeed it was George W. Bush’s failure to be that executive, despite his non-legislator background, and ever say no to his own party, much less the other party, by using the veto or otherwise leading politically as he should have, that was his undoing as much as anything else.
But Barack Obama brings this to a new level. His entire frame of reference is akin to Tip O’Neill’s “all politics is local” perspective. His chief of staff is fresh out of Congress, as is much of his cabinet. So his policies spirit is, fundamentally, the majority’s policies made flesh, with no executive perspective, experience or leverage at work.
Everyone being unhappy is not a proof that everyone’s “right,” especially when their anger is mutually contradicting. But President Obama, late of the United States Senate representing the great ward-centered commonwealth of Illinois, is going to have to do step up to more than lead the majority if he’s going to really — not virtually — lead government, much less America or some significant part of the world. He hasn’t shown yet that he knows how to do that.
Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog is Likelihood of Success.