Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Obama’s persistent image problem

Sorry, but winning a second majority isn’t going to change Barack Obama for the better.

He’s not going to feel less self-possessed, more anxious about how other politicians feel, and less excited about being one of American history’s great presidents. He’d be as thick a politician as Mitt Romney, however, if he can’t see that his challenges are smaller now than they were through his first termand his adversaries are smaller as well.

Terrible clouds are lifting. Consequently, Obama’s confidence, toughness, and exceptional personal ambition will likely shine more brightly.

Peggy Noonan can be counted on to tell us how exceptional presidents should conduct themselves when they’re having fun. Here’s her take on Obama’s bracing first press conference back in Washington:

“He's looking very stern. You don't have a problem with Susan Rice, you have a problem with me, he says, with a scowl. He talks about the fiscal cliff but not in a way that shows a real eagerness for compromise. He does not define areas of potential give, potential progress. He won, after all. He doesn't have to.

“What is needed is bigness, magnanimity. It's not all about him, his party, it's not all about self. It is not even all about one's deepest political intentions. There are other ways and schedules for moving forward there.

“Get the Republicans leaders on the Hill together. Suggest in subtle ways you'll let them save face. Quietly acknowledge you weren't the best negotiator in the world the first time 'round, and neither were they.

“Maybe no one was quite their best. But the nation faces a real challenge and there will be economic repercussions in mishandling it. ‘Let's make a deal and let's make it quickly. We all have to play games but not too much and not too long.’”

Boehner can wear sunglasses during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations if he has a problem with Obama’s glittering political success.

This year, he’ll deal with Obama whether he likes or loathes the man. He’ll compromise on taxes because he can’t walk out or refuse to return the President’s calls. Obama has his job for four years. John Boehner holds his job at the pleasure of a defeated Republican Party. 

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