Friday, September 7, 2012

Still waiting for Superman -- Ctd

The estimable David Brooks weighs in: "What was there in this speech that will make us think the next few years will be any different? America will only be governable again if there is a leader who breaks the mold and reframes the debate." Point taken, sir. Um, how? Mr. Brooks conveniently didn't say. The ivory tower types never do. Reagan was arguably the last president to break the political china and remold it (never mind the ghastly result). But consider the context. Reagan had a friendly, GOP-majority Senate and a (mostly) rational Democratic House prepared to at least listen to Republican ideas. Compromise, that pesky building block of good governance, had not yet been stood up against the wall and shot. Nor had the Cable-News-Internet Complex arisen like zombies yet. The political environment Mr. Obama faces is vastly different. Dysfunctional is the kindest thing I can say about it. Congressional moderates -- who traditionally played rational codas to presidential prologues -- have, like Elvis, left the building. The Lincolnesque figure in the White House has no William Seward counterpart, nor a LBJ to knock heads in Congress. The news media, while never perfect, is now a toxic stew of intellectually lazy journalists with the memory of a Guppy in a fish bowl. How, then, does Obama "break the mold?" He must first do whatever it takes to win re-election. Once his own political neck is off the block, he must then relentlessly shame Congress into living up to its constitutional responsibilities. As part of this bully pulpit campaign, he could even appropriate John McCain's 2008 slogan: "Country First." It's simple and easily understood. Obama's intriguing discussion of "citizenship" in his speech could be a hint that he's already thinking along these lines. Anyway, Mr. Brooks, that's how.

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