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Wed Apr 23, 2014, 09:46 PM

"The Most Enduring Myth About the Presidency" - Norm Ornstein

A nice article by Norm Ornstein destroying the current narrative of blaming the President for Republican obstructionism.


I do understand the sentiment here and the frustration over the deep dysfunction that has taken over our politics. It is tempting to believe that a president could overcome the tribalism, polarization, and challenges of the permanent campaign, by doing what other presidents did to overcome their challenges. It is not as if passing legislation and making policy was easy in the old days.

But here is the reality, starting with the Johnson presidency…. [H]is drive for civil rights was aided in 1964 by having the momentum following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the partnership of Republicans Everett Dirksen and Bill McCullough, detailed beautifully in new books by Clay Risen and Todd Purdum. And Johnson was aided substantially in 1965-66 by having swollen majorities of his own party in both chambers of Congress – 68 of 100 senators, and 295 House members, more than 2-to-1 margins.

* * *

Ronald Reagan was a master negotiator, and he has the distinction of having two major pieces of legislation, tax reform and immigration reform, enacted in his second term, without the overwhelming numbers that Johnson enjoyed in 1965-66. What Reagan did have, just like Johnson had on civil rights, was active and eager partners from the other party. The drive for tax reform did not start with Reagan, but with Democrats Bill Bradley and Dick Gephardt, whose reform bill became the template for the law that ultimately passed. They, and Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, were delighted to make their mark in history (and for Bradley and Gephardt, to advance their presidential ambitions) by working with the lame-duck Republican president. The same desire to craft transformative policy was there for both Alan Simpson and Ron Mazzoli, a Senate Republican and a House Democrat, who put together immigration legislation with limited involvement by the White House.

As for Bill Clinton, he was as politically adept as any president in modern times, and as charismatic and compelling as anyone. But the reality is that these great talents did not convince a single Republican to support his economic plan in 1993, nor enough Democrats to pass the plan for a crucial seven-plus months; did not stop the Republicans under Speaker Newt Gingrich from shutting down the government twice; and did not stop the House toward the end of his presidency from impeaching him on shaky grounds, with no chance of conviction in the Senate. The brief windows of close cooperation in 1996, after Gingrich’s humiliation following the second shutdown, were opened for pragmatic, tactical reasons by Republicans eager to win a second consecutive term in the majority, and ended shortly after they had accomplished that goal.

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Reply "The Most Enduring Myth About the Presidency" - Norm Ornstein (Original post)
TomCADem Apr 2014 OP
1StrongBlackMan Apr 2014 #1
COLGATE4 Apr 2014 #2
yurbud Apr 2014 #3
Bill USA Apr 2014 #4

Response to TomCADem (Original post)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 10:18 PM

1. Kick for reality. eom.


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Response to 1StrongBlackMan (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 08:55 AM

2. K&R. The bottom line from seems to be:

You can get things done if:

a) you have an overwhelming majority of your supporters in Congress;


b) You have reasonable cooperation from members of the opposing party.

When you have neither, nothing gets accomplished. Thanks, Repukes for six years of pointless obstructionism.

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Response to TomCADem (Original post)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 12:34 PM

3. and Jimmy Carter had a Democratic congress that was already starting to move to the right

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Response to TomCADem (Original post)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 04:31 PM

4. Norm Ornstein used to be a frequent guest on PBS Newshour - till he and Thomas Mann wrote the piece

"Let's just say it: the Republicans are the problem" published in the Washington Post (soon after they published a book of the same name) which described the Republican party as "an insurgent outlier" of American politics.

since then, I believe Ornstein has been on Faux News - light (PBS NewsHour) one time. Thomas Mann has just disappeared.

Ornstein and Mann, since they chose to come out and speak the simple truth about the GOP, are now the bete noire duo of M$M.

Meanwhile we have been treated to, what, thousands of discussions about President Obama's "leadership" while not once during Obama's administration has the word "filibuster" passed the lips of the GOP toadies who are M$M. Not once has it been stated for viewers edification that the GOP have broken their own records for filibustering legislation and Presidential appointments. And except for a brief reference in a Frontline report, has M$M mentioned the meeting of GOP leaders on President Obama's innauguration day, where it was decided the only thing for the GOP to do was to oppose EVERYTHING Obama and the Dems proposed, and then blame Government inaction on the Dems and specifically Obama.

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