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November 30, 2011 10:30 AM Overestimating presidential power

By Steve Benen

In our system of government, the president simply does not have the legal or institutional authority to approve sweeping economic legislation on his or her own. The number of voters who don’t seem to fully understand this is disconcerting.

Greg Sargent flags a remarkable quote from a Democratic official in Pennsylvania, where President Obama will visit today to talk about the economy.

“Enough with the soft approach,” said Corey O’Brien, a Democratic Lackawanna County commissioner and early backer of Mr. Obama. “He’s got to say, ‘I’m in charge, and I’m going to get it done with or without Congress.’ ”

“People are furious,” Mr. O’Brien added. “Everybody here is petrified they are going to lose their jobs tomorrow, and I mean everybody.”

Just to be clear, my point is not to pick on Corey O’Brien, an Obama supporter. He’s very likely frustrated and concerned, and knows plenty of people in his community who are equally frustrated and concerned. I don’t blame them in the slightest — given the larger economic circumstances, their anxiety is well justified.

But look again at the line he wants to hear from Obama: “I’m in charge, and I’m going to get it done with or without Congress.”

Based on nothing but my own perceptions, this seems like a fairly common sentiment. The public likes to think of the President of the United States, no matter who’s in office, as having vast powers. He or she is “leader of the free world.” He or she holds the most powerful office on the planet, making life and death decisions every day. If the president — any president — wants a proposal to create jobs and grow the economy, it must be within his or her power to force one into the Oval Office, if necessary, through sheer force of will.

This notion has appeal. It’s also badly mistaken. There are some modest steps a president can take — and Obama is taking them through the White House’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign — but it’s simply not possible for a president to strengthen the economy “with or without Congress.” Obama has no such option; the American political system doesn’t work this way.

This creates a dramatic political dilemma for the White House. Americans hate Congress, overwhelmingly dislike Republicans, and the notion that the GOP is sabotaging the economy just to undermine Obama is widely believed. And yet, the president may suffer politically because many voters expect Obama to succeed — despite unprecedented Republican obstructionism — by “getting it done with or without Congress.”

Indeed, as we discussed last month, this actually creates an incentive for Republicans to be even more irresponsible — if GOP officials believe the public will blame the president for the breakdown of the American political process, even if it’s not Obama’s fault, Republicans will keep up their destructive tactics. The unstated goal is to put a simple-but-misguided concept in voters’ minds: Washington stinks, Obama’s the president, we want a better Washington, so must need a new president.

Voters’ understanding of the process is severely limited, and many Americans likely fail to appreciate the role Congress must play in policymaking. The challenge for the president isn’t to teach Civics 101 to the populace; that would take too long. The task at hand is communicating who deserves credit for fighting to make things better, and who deserves blame for standing in the way.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • MBunge on November 30, 2011 10:46 AM:

    "Voters’ understanding of the process is severely limited, and many Americans likely fail to appreciate the role Congress must play in policymaking."


    Yeah, let's not put the blame on voters here. If their understanding is limited and they don't appreciate the role Congress must play, it's because our political elites have shown a growing disdain for the proper functioning of our government. Congress has spent a few decades abdicating more and more of its role as a policy maker and 9/11 and the behavior of the Bush Administration afterwards seems to have brainwashed the Beltway media into thinking that's how a President should act in all matters and circumstances.

    I mean, when the supposedly Democratic Chris Matthews, who knows as well as anyone how total and venomous Republican obstructionism has been against this President, STILL goes all over television whining about how Obama isn't giving him a "narrative" or some such crap...what is the average person supposed to think?

    Mike

  • johnny canuck on November 30, 2011 10:46 AM:

    The problem is that all Presidential candidates run for office as if they were the prime minister in a parliamentary system and so when you elected them they would control the legislature.

  • c u n d gulag on November 30, 2011 10:48 AM:

    I think a lot of Liberals and Progressives look at the Neo-Dictatorship of Little Boots Bush, and wonder why Obama can't do the same?

    Remember, Little Boots had a mostly Republican Congress, and a lot of Red Dog (ain't nothin' blue about 'em) and Whoreporatist Democrats in the House and Senate to go along with him.

    We elect Presidents, not dictators.
    When the President walks in, they play "Hail to the Chief," instead of rising up and chanting "Hail Caesar!"

    And that is what we need people to realize. A President can only do so much without Congress.

    Worded properly by someone far cleverer than I am, maybe it might make the dumbasses in this country realize that, if they want Obama to be more Liberal/Progressive, then give him a large enough majority of Liberals/Progressives in the House and Senate.
    Otherwise, it's just a fight to a draw, at best, for Obama.

    But, you want to see concerted and concentrated action, sit on your asses in 2012, and watch what a Republican President with a Republican House and Senate can do to wreck our nation. AGAIN!!!

  • DisgustedWithItAll on November 30, 2011 10:50 AM:

    If a large percentage of Americans weren't either a) irresponsible about their civic responsibilities to the country they live in, or b) blatantly stupid, then the country wouldn't be in the state it's in. Republicans would be extinct.

  • chopin on November 30, 2011 10:57 AM:

    Assume your assumption is correct. Would it kill Obama to set the public straight? Would it be impossible for Obama to phrase it in such a way it is guaranteed to generate MSM coverage?

    Obama: Our constitution gives congress the job of crafting and funding the rules of governance. It gives the courts the job of ensuring those rules meet constitutional muster. And it givess me the job of enforcing those rules. This framework is what is meant by separation of powers. If you don't like the way the game is stacked against you, then may I humbly suggest you vote for representatives that will write the rules more to your liking. Vote for representatives that are more interested in representing the 99% than the corporations and the 1%. That is YOUR job. I guarantee you that I will take great pride in enforcing those rules for you.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on November 30, 2011 10:58 AM:

    "The challenge for the president isn’t to teach Civics 101 to the populace; that would take too long. The task at hand is communicating who deserves credit for fighting to make things better, and who deserves blame for standing in the way."

    Just how long would it take to teach the idea that Congress has to propose, pass, and present a bill to the President, not the President decree it? Hammer it, and I think it would get across. Needs to be done.

  • Bigtuna on November 30, 2011 11:01 AM:

    I am no constitutional scholar, but if you actually read the constitution, it is impressive how few real specified duties and powers there are in the office of the president. Much of the "power" of the president is the ability to shift emphases in certain departments, how and which crimes are prosecuted by DOJ, etc etc., along with public perceptions. Let's face it, post Katrina, Little Boots was toast. We had 3 years of a parlimentary system in which the president was mostly a figurehead; except of course for the cancerous nature of mid level govt appointees, the criminal lack of SEC enforcement, etc....


    In fact, I wonder, regardless of who it is, in this poisonous environment, what influence would a 2nd term president ever have? Especially one who has not done well in balancing the interests of his office and his party?

  • Werewolf on November 30, 2011 11:03 AM:

    I think Mr. Gulag has it correct-a lot of people (including some commentators on this site) want a liberal/progressive version of the Bush Regime. Enact what we want, rule of law be damned. Unfortunately for such "progressives", President Obama doesn't seem to want to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. Unfortunately for the rest of us, such "progressives" have big mouths and way too much influence.

  • Mimikatz on November 30, 2011 11:08 AM:

    I also think it is part of the legacy of the Bush years. Not only did Bush have a compliant GOP Congress his first 6 years, the Dems just wouldn't use the full panoply of obstructive tactics against him when in the majority after the 2006 election, or when in the minority. They caved into him on FISA and lots of other stuff. This is what people measure Obama against, even though Obama has actually gotten more of his agenda through than Bush did in his first years. Bush was lots of bluster and the illusion of being "the decider".

    And it doesn't help that GOPsters running for President make statements like "I will repeal Obamacare on my first day in office",

  • FedupinArkansas on November 30, 2011 11:09 AM:

    Sure, now he cant do anything, but immediately after the election he could have. Majorities in both houses and a public clamoring for change. He blew it. He has done some great things but on the economy, he ignored the smart guys on his side and took a shot at his legacy. Stimulus too small and too eaten up with tax cuts. Wrongheaded policy for the sake of bi-partisanship. I dont feel sorry for him that he will have cost himself the election. At this point I dont know that he can do what needs to be done, ever.

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 11:16 AM:

    Majorities in both houses and a public clamoring for change. He blew it.

    Excellent support of Benen's point: "Voters’ understanding of the process is severely limited..."

  • Gregory on November 30, 2011 11:20 AM:

    Anyway, the message from Democratic politicians should be that if voters want to reject the failed Reublican economic policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy at everyone else's expense, they should elect more Democrats! Sheesh!

  • Holly W on November 30, 2011 11:20 AM:

    Agree with Chopin and Disgusted with it all. Obama should teach. He has no choice but do so in a clever way and use his rare oratorical talent. Talk about it patriotically: celebrate America and that the Founders kept the power of the president in check by requiring new policies pass congress. But that power is now being used to check job creation. Then celebrate the Founders best move: giving people the ultimate check on power by being able to get keep representatives who work for them and replace ones who don't. Argue why the Republicans in congress are not working and need to be replaced. Obama needs to make 2012 a change election actually. He should also remind that overwhelming Democratic majorities were necessary to create SS and Medicare, the programs threatened by Republican cuts today.

  • DAY on November 30, 2011 11:21 AM:

    You cannot teach the unteachable.
    Therefore, Obama should do a Bush- ride roughshod over the Constitution, then wait for the Supreme Court to call him on it- months/years later. And they will get the blame.

  • Ron Byers on November 30, 2011 11:22 AM:

    What they are calling for Steve is a man on a white horse. They want a savior. Everybody realizes our legislature is both clueless and corrupt. They will never accomplish anything for the good of the country.

    They want Obama to change the way our government works. In short people are looking for a dictator who can make the trains run on time.

    The cry for a dictator is only going to worsen until the congress reforms.

  • berttheclock on November 30, 2011 11:23 AM:

    So the President who was maligned, incorrectly, for "ramming bills" down the collective throats of Americans is being damned for not ramming bills down the collective throats of Congress.

  • j on November 30, 2011 11:23 AM:

    My blood pressure just keeps going up - Just now on MSNBC,
    Michael Steele had the gall to say that Obama has done nothing to create jobs and has not presented one package to create jobs in the country, also on the show was Ed Rendell who did not say a word, or take Steele to task.
    This is what our problem is, why don't democrats call the republicans out when they spin lies?

  • iyoumeweus on November 30, 2011 11:25 AM:

    I beg to differ:

    The Federal Reserve has the power to make large loans ($7.7T) at low interest and no strings attached to rescue large banks and financial institutions from there mistakes and poor judgments without going to Congress. This power sprung forth from the Federal Reserve Act. Who knew?? Yet, I do know that the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balance Growth Act mandates during economic downturns, that the President, the Federal Reserve and private corporations work together to achieve full employment and growth. If the Fed can loan money a lot of money to banks about to fail, why can not the Fed loan money to the Nation through its President for use in establishing a National Infrastructure Bank which would provide funds to federal departments, states and local governments to hire private corporations to rebuild America. Other funds could be used by the President to establish CCC, WPA and other such programs to get US working, purchasing and expanding our economy.
    Remember plants do not grow by watering their leaves, but by watering and fertilizing their roots. Our roots (worker, wage earners, our people, fellow citizens) have gone without water and fertilizer to long!

  • Gregory on November 30, 2011 11:25 AM:

    when the supposedly Democratic Chris Matthews, who knows as well as anyone how total and venomous Republican obstructionism has been against this President, STILL goes all over television whining about how Obama isn't giving him a "narrative" or some such crap...what is the average person supposed to think?

    They're supposed to think that Matthews is a dick. And they'd be right, of course.

  • Kathryn on November 30, 2011 11:26 AM:

    Since there is obviously so much confusion about presidential power even by supporters of the president, I think it is imperative that it be cleared up by the President immediately. We've got fat boy Christie screaming about it and being covered by Morning Joe and others like an oracle, every form of pundit parroting the same crap, no wonder people are confused. As MBunge said Chris Matthews, Mr. I love and for live for politics, promotes confusion with his how Obama shoulld lead rants, Administration better take the bull by the horns before it's too late.

    Something along the line of what Chopin suggested only louder, shorter and cystal CLEAR and widely broadcast. Then every so called Democratic spokesperson, repeat, repeat, repeat and not gently either. The trend is obvious, people cannot put two and two together, they will punish Obama for the sins of the Republican congress and then, Katie bar the door, Pres. Gingrich.

  • June on November 30, 2011 11:34 AM:

    Not for nothing, but Pennsylvania also overwhelmingly voted in a Republican governor (Corbett) whose idea of job creation for "hard-working Pennsylvanians" was to...pass tort reform and... to give natural gas industry lobbyists the run of the state. Yet, somehow, it's all Obama's fault?

    As for the "teaching," Obama has been doing that since Day 1 of his presidency through each weekly address, press conference, roadshow and major speech, but I would bet dollars to donuts "frustrated supporters" like O'Brien don't have a clue about any of it.

    In fact, Obama has already said "I'm in charge and I'm going to get it done with or without Congress" -- that's exactly what the "We Can't Wait" campaign is about -- and it seems to be working -- unemployment numbers over the last two months have substantially lowered from about 450,000 jobless claims a month to now about 380,000 a month -- and today brought a blowout job creation number of 206,000 jobs added in Nov.

    It's amazing to me O'Brien entirely skips over Corbett's handling of PA's economy to blame Obama. This country has jumped the shark when it comes to willful political dumbery.

  • SYSPROG on November 30, 2011 11:34 AM:

    While I agree that when Obama was elected many of us wanted an 'educator in chief' I still ask WHERE THE F* IS THE MEDIA???? You can talk and talk and talk about how this country was REALLY founded, what the separation of powers REALLY means and WHO MAKES THE LAWS but if it's never covered and the only thing the media talks about is the SPIN then what's the POINT in the Fourth Estate?

  • Gus on November 30, 2011 11:38 AM:

    Well dah! Somebody needs to start telling the folks that if they want to get something done, they need to elect 60 Dem senators and elect a majority of Dems to the House. Dis-elect the Republican obstructionists. It is really not that difficult. Just say it.

  • Mac on November 30, 2011 11:42 AM:

    I too know a LOT of disillusioned Dems who are taking out their frustrations on Obama. Obama has *got* to figure out a way to connect with this frustration, anger and fear. Our political system is currently broken. Yeah, "elect more Democrats" is a rational argument, but politics is not about rational arguments. If folks *feel* that the system is broken, then they want to *see* the most powerful Democrat fighting to fix it. How exactly is Obama doing this?

    My sense is that Obama needs to engage in legislative activity and dare the Republicans to stop him. E.g., Take the "saved" Iraq money and order the Army Corps of engineers to establish a National Infrastructure Bank. Full stop. Let the Republicans hem and holler and tell them to shove it.

    Remember, the political system is already broken.

  • Marc McKenzie on November 30, 2011 11:47 AM:

    @ Ron Byers: "What they are calling for Steve is a man on a white horse. They want a savior. Everybody realizes our legislature is both clueless and corrupt. They will never accomplish anything for the good of the country.

    They want Obama to change the way our government works. In short people are looking for a dictator who can make the trains run on time."

    Chilling...but unfortunately, sadly true.

    You would think that we would have learned our lesson after the horrors that we saw in the 20th Century when what you stated actually happened, but it seems that today we're more interested in hooking up our latest gadgets to the Cloud instead of actually cracking open a history book of the last 100 years.

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 11:50 AM:

    The Federal Reserve has the power to make large loans

    And, as everybody knows, the POTUS totally runs the Federal Reserve, since he can appoint anyone he wants.

    (Guess we're back to that "Voters’ understanding of the process is severely limited..." point again. See Diamond, Peter.)

  • Marc McKenzie on November 30, 2011 11:52 AM:

    @ Kathryn: The President has been doing that since he entered office. The problem is that he believed he was teaching a nation of adults, not whining children who, in addition to not bothering to read, always pick up their ball and go home to sulk when they don't get their way (instead of actually sticking it out and understanding not just the limits of Presidential power, but actually how the gears of government really work).

    And even if President Obama gave an explanation....so what? The GOP would dismiss it immediately, the MSM would get it all wrong, and some on the Left, including Moore, Greenwald, and Sirota would sneer, "Oh, it's just words!! He STILL hasn't done anything!"

  • Marc McKenzie on November 30, 2011 11:56 AM:

    @ FedupinArkansas:

    Please. Stop it. That line of swill you spouted is not only wrong, it is, to put it nicely, bone stick stone stupid. Can you please attempt to at least get your facts straight?

  • Brownell on November 30, 2011 12:03 PM:

    As the commenters have noted, many well-informed Americans are aware that the US Constitution designates policy as the purview of Congress, not the President. As laid out in the Constitution, the President is supposed to execute the laws, not make them. However, Republicans love to blather about the President as "Commander in Chief" without noting that the term applies to the military, not the Congress or the public - and they're not the only ones. Actually, since Republicans tend to be more authoritarian in nature, I find the Commander in Chief nonsense more offensive coming from the media's so-called liberals. Also, although some Democratic Presidents have expanded executive power (Roosevelt, Johnson & others), their actions have generally been in response to national crises. The Nixon-Bush-Cheney expansion of executive power was a decades-long strategy to achieve power for its own sake - not a response to a national crisis. Rahm Emmanuel may have expressed the idea with the wittiest phrase (not original), but the concept of executive power for its own sake was deeply established in the totalitarian wing of conservative ideology.

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 12:04 PM:

    If ONLY Obama would start using the BULLY PULPIT, maybe start TRAVELING to more events in BATTLEGROUND STATES to get the MESSAGE out.

    But he just SITS in the White House, twiddling his THUMBS, doing NOTHING.

    He's just so LAZY! What were we THINKING, electing a BLACK president???

  • Archon on November 30, 2011 12:11 PM:

    Hate to say this but if every election is just going to be a referendum on the President and nobody else in Washington, then the President should have more power to influence and enact his agenda.

    I know history books say a lot of those roads lead to dictatorship but I'm so frustrated with our political process I would be prepared to deal with whatever the unintended consequences are for giving the President more power

  • Ron Byers on November 30, 2011 12:13 PM:

    chi res

    Obama isn't lazy, he just isn't getting the help he needs from the rest of the Democratic establishment. He has given any number of speeches in battleground states and has more scheduled. He isn't getting much coverage in the press. They neither fear nor respect him.

  • Bruce on November 30, 2011 12:18 PM:

    One of the strongest signs that the American era is over is that our best and brightest expend their considerable abilities coming up with excuses why nothing can be done about our problems rather than innovative ways to solve them.

    It's simply a fact that the president has nearly unlimited unilateral power to do what's necessary to fix the economy. It's simply a fact that under the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 he has unilateral authority to take direct control of banks and financial institutions, and arguably the entire economy. It's a fact that he has unilateral discretion, and some would argue obligation, to break up the big banks and liquidate the debt they hold for pennies on the dollar. It's a fact that he has the authority to mint unlimited amounts of new money, with or without the cooperation of the Federal Reserve.

    Where he doesn't have complete unilateral authority he has opportunities to exercise enormous leverage on every other player in Washington using the authority he does have.

    Obama's refusal to do anything significant about the economy is a colossal failure of nerve, imagination or morals, or all three.

  • cmdicely on November 30, 2011 12:22 PM:

    Based on nothing but my own perceptions, this seems like a fairly common sentiment. The public likes to think of the President of the United States, no matter who’s in office, as having vast powers.

    It probably has done nothing to combat this precedent that every President of the modern era has assumed and exercised, without meaningful restraint by the other branches, vast extraconstitutional powers in the area of warmaking, surveillance, detention, etc., etc., etc.

    The view that the President's power isn't, in practice, constrained by the Constitution, by law, or by anything other than Presidential will isn't irrational, its the only rational conclusion based on the facts, whatever the theory of constraints one might argue ought to apply based on morality, the Constitution, the principle of legality, etc.

    And from that its a fairly natural next step to the conclusion that if that's the way the country is going to be run -- if we were going to have an elected monarch rather than a Constitutionally-constrained chief executive -- then it would be best if the monarch would exercise his arbitrary powers in ways that would actually benefit the nation, rather than only in ways that increase misery and government control of the population, hiding behind theoretical constraints that he is otherwise eager to ignore when the issue is, you know, actually serving the real and immediate needs of the mass of the American people.

    Now, I'm not endorsing this view -- I think that we need to restore respect for the rule of law and do a better job of enforcing it. But as long as there is a strong recent history of unaccountable, unconstrained executives, arguments that the President is powerless where it matters seem hollow. And if Obama hasn't been the worst where it comes to exercising arbitrary powers, he hasn't exactly pursued accountability for his predecessors, or even condemned their illegal acts for their illegality (though in some cases he's broken with their policies over the desirability of the particular acts.) And by those failures he has implicitly endorsed the unchecked and arbitrary powers of the executive.

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 12:35 PM:

    Ron Byers on November 30, 2011 8:57 AM:


    Apparently Obama has isolated himself in the Whitehouse, much the way GHW Bush did in his last year. I suspect that Obama's personality is partly to blame

  • June on November 30, 2011 12:37 PM:

    @chi res - having read a lot of your posts in support of Obama, I believe that last one was satirical, n'est-ce pas? :)

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 12:55 PM:

    Mais oui, Mlle June, c'est vrai.

  • Eric on November 30, 2011 1:32 PM:

    Yes, the formal Presidential powers are circumscribed, but there are huge informal powers Obama could use. I am reminded of the Johnson years, where his knowledge of the foibles of the people in Congress and his ruthless capacity to use that knowledge moved otherwise hostile elements to do his bidding. There might be pearls clutched and smelling salts required in the salons of Georgetown if Obama tried similar tactics, but a very explicit private chat with the Liebermans and Nelsons of his caucus early in his term (with punishment for non-cooperation) would have served him and the rest of us rather better than the third way mush he actually tried.

  • Rabbler on November 30, 2011 1:41 PM:

    If it wasn't for that darn constitutional requirement of 60 votes in the Senate, you just can't fathom how many great things Obama would have done.

  • Jim on November 30, 2011 1:48 PM:

    If it wasn't for that darn constitutional requirement of 60 votes in the Senate,
    constitutional, no, but it's there, and a whole lot of Democrats want it there, and there's no guarantee that there were 50 votes for the things liberals want(ed) if it had been eliminated.

  • Ron Byers on November 30, 2011 2:35 PM:

    By "they" I mean both the Democratic establishment and the press.

    No, I don't want to move to a dictatorship, but I would love to see us move to a more parlimentary system, just as Gingrich envisioned.

  • Adam C on November 30, 2011 3:39 PM:

    A couple of points to start with: my comment is not about magical thinking to the effect that a President can do "anything." I do actually understand the basics of the Constitution. My comment is about Obama's failure of leadership with respect to the very issues on which he campaigned, and about the profound corruption of the political system by corporate and "1%" power. I find it depressing that both Steve Benen and most of the commenters here fail to address either issue.

    Not only Obama but virtually all the Dems in the Senate and about half in the House have caved and caved and caved to the corporate lobbyist army--no surprise, because in most cases that's who's paying for their campaigns. Moreover, as many other people have pointed out, Obama's negotiating style with the GOP is to give away half the store before the bargaining even starts. He's a very intelligent man, and if he's doing this, I assume it is because he means to give the corporate stooges most of what they want. He has kept many small promises, but almost none of the large ones. Most glaring and most dangerous are two: his apparent willingness to adopt the Wall St line on deficits--even talking about Social Security "reform"--and his absolute unwillingness to take any leadership on the gigantic environmental crisis, of which the biggest part is human-caused global climate change. Had 1,200 activists not encircled the White House a month ago and made a stink about a scandal that involves his own Secretary of State (look it up), I have no doubt that he would have approved the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, which is in its own way a disaster as big as the BP spill in the Gulf. Simply put--the man appears to have no principles. Not really a surprise, because anyone with principles cannot get elected to higher office now--the system is rotten to the core. Listen to Occupy!

  • G.Kerby on November 30, 2011 3:39 PM:

    Following on Eric's point, I'd like to see The Prez channel some inner-LBJ: "Invite" each redstate yokel to the White House for a private session. Explain to them how the budget cuts they demand will be extracted by gutting every dime of Federal spending in their strongholds, unless they co-operate with Obama's proposals. ("That's a nice military base you have there ... sure would be a shame if we had to relocate it from TX to Mass. to save money"). Added points if he holds the meeting while he sits on the crapper ala LBJ.

    I know, it would never happen, but I can dream can't I ?

  • Blue Shark on November 30, 2011 3:47 PM:

    ...The BIGGEST leverage Obama could have applied in 2010 was to break the filibuster obstructionists by having Harry Reid and the other Senate Democrats fix the damn rules. (Yeah i know he can't order it, but he can make it mighty miserable for Reid if he wants it and doesn't get it)

    ...instead they whiffed... again!

    ... think of all the good legislation that has gone down in the past three years because of 41 obstructionist republicans.

  • Jim on November 30, 2011 3:49 PM:

    he Prez channel some inner-LBJ: "Invite" each redstate yokel to the White House for a private session
    You do get that for this to work, he has to get all the Red State yokels, each and every one of them, and Joe Lieberman, and probably a few others who are neither Red State (Feinstein) nor necessarily yokels (Jim Webb and Mark Warner) to agree to stick it to each other, that the yokels might just figure out what's going on and say "Hey, if we all tell him no, he's screwed!" And that's just the Senate.

    Moreover, as many other people have pointed out, Obama's negotiating style with the GOP is to give away half the store before the bargaining even starts.
    Yup, people keep pointing this out, relentlessly and willfully and insistently oblivious to the fact that for most of his presidency, Obama was negotiating with other Democrats, not Republicans.

  • Jim on November 30, 2011 3:54 PM:

    ...The BIGGEST leverage Obama could have applied in 2010 was to break the filibuster obstructionists by having Harry Reid and the other Senate Democrats fix the damn rules.
    they tried, it didn't work (relevant moments in the second half)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yg0_u5Sqn0

    (Yeah i know he can't order it, but he can make it mighty miserable for Reid if he wants it and doesn't get it)
    Really? How?

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 5:03 PM:

    "That's a nice military base you have there ... sure would be a shame if we had to relocate it from TX to Mass. to save money"

    I SIMPLY CAN'T BELIEVE YOU FUCKING IDIOTS ARE STILL WRITING FUCIKING CRAP LIKE THIS1111!!!

    THE FUCKING PRESIDENT CANNOT DECIDE WHERE FUCKING MILITARY BASES ARE OR AREN'T BY HIS FUCKING SELF111!!!

    THAT'S THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF THE FUCKING POST, YOU MORNONS11!!

  • chi res on November 30, 2011 5:05 PM:

    [emphasis added]

  • Doug on November 30, 2011 8:36 PM:

    "[emphasis added]" chi res @ 5:05 PM
    I should think so!

  • RobM on November 30, 2011 9:05 PM:

    The President has far more power to effect the economy than you give credit for. You have clearly never read the TARP legislation. Your ignorance is damning.
    "SEC. 2. > PURPOSES.

    The purposes of this Act are--
    (1) to immediately provide authority and facilities that the
    Secretary of the Treasury can use to restore liquidity and
    stability to the financial system of the United States; and
    (2) to ensure that such authority and such facilities are
    used in a manner that--
    (A) protects home values, college funds, retirement
    accounts, and life savings;
    (B) preserves homeownership and promotes jobs and
    economic growth;
    (C) maximizes overall returns to the taxpayers of
    the United States; and
    (D) provides public accountability for the exercise
    of such authority."
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-110publ343/html/PLAW-110publ343.htm

  • rtaylortitle on December 01, 2011 10:23 AM:

    So, I guess you just want to go directly to a monarchy...annoint this fool (O'bomba) as king and bypass Congressional debates (like going to war without a declaration from the House). You people just gon't get it. Congress, on its own, is bad enough...but you want to push the envelope even further towards total fascism (fascism = the rich get to keep their profits but their losses are paid by everyone else)...not socialism. It's definitely time to just do away with a Congress and a President and just go to a direct/computerized voting democracy.

  • HMDK on December 02, 2011 4:55 AM:

    Wow, what an amazingly, insultingly stupid comment thread.
    I always heard stories of american liberals eating their own or having circular firing squads. Never saw one in such perfect microcosm 'til now, and boy is it pathetic.
    Wait, no.
    I always heard that about American LEFTISTS...
    Oh, I forgot, they're extinct, because the left has moved so far to the right in the last few decades that Nixon is seen as a solid Dem Candidate.
    Again, wow, that is some "progress!".

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