Obama’s stunning Turnaround?

Voters who flocked to the Republican banner seven weeks ago are probably scratching their heads, wondering, “Who really won in November?” After handing the president and Congressional Democrats the worst drubbing in more than half a century, they can only watch in disbelief as President Barack Obama has reeled off a series of unexpected victories.  A new stimulus bill, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and now START — who would have believed that this shirt-tail session of Congress would have been so triumphant? They call it “lame duck” but it was anything but lame.

What happened? One answer, I would submit, is that the president and his team found a better approach to governing: Instead of relying on the Democratic caucus in each chamber to deliver, they built up coalitions of their own that swayed public opinion in their direction and gave them leverage in Congress. On the extension of tax breaks — along with several other tax breaks the president wanted — the White House cut a deal with Sen. Mitch McConnell and other Republicans. Liberal Democrats naturally cried foul, but the White House-GOP coalition sent a persuasive signal to the public that this was a reasonable compromise. Polls showed the public coming down in favor, and as night follows day, Congress voted the compromise into law. (Contrast how quickly the public turned against the health care reform when it was a Democrats-only bill.) On “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and on START, the White House had a different, but equally formidable, coalition that helped to turn the tide in the president’s direction. The fact that Bob Gates — one of the most respected defense chiefs in history — and the chair of the Joint Chiefs, along with the poll of service members, came out in favor of repealing DADT made a huge difference in swaying both public opinion and Congress.  START appeared all but dead until the president assembled a group of Republican heavyweights — from George H.W. Bush and Kissinger to Baker and Shultz — whose vocal support for the treaty reversed the momentum. In each case, there were also Senate stalwarts — Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins on DADT, John Kerry on START — who delivered, too.


Here is my opinion… We have an opportunity to really see what Pres. Obama’s leadership ability is. Will he, like Pres. Clinton, work with the Republicans and get things done? Can he co-opt enough of their ideas without looking like a total sell out to his liberal base? Clinton also had the far left crying foul, but the reality is he was one of the most effective, if not the most effective politician, in recent history.

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4 Responses to Obama’s stunning Turnaround?

  1. Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

    Just on NPR, this lame duck congress has passed more bipartisan legislation than it has since the 40’s. Guess Obama is better than we give him credit for… although I suspect there was a LOT of Clinton pulling strings.

    They even acknowledged that there are actually gays in the military!!

  2. Henry says:

    Stunning turnaround or last gasp? What surprised me is the number of rino’s that caved. It will be interesting to see who within the Republican Party will be controlling congress, who will get the key committee assignments, and who will lose assignments. I did not see a liberal mandate nor a moderate mandate being granted in November. The conservative freshman class likely did not miss this.

  3. Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

    “Stunning turnaround or last gasp?” ( Henry’s quote)

    LOL, empty rhetoric to the end, Henry. A Lame duck is simply that. These candidates lost and no longer have to lockstep to apease the party. They are now voting their conscience and doing what they KNEW they should have done while in office. Getting positive legislation passed.

    To bad they didn’t do that while in office, and thats the reason they didn’t get re elected. I realize the Tea Party is very ideolized, but part of their mantra is No More Business As Usual on the Hill. That means political lockstepping such as what you endorse is going to be frowned upon. They voted out majority party locksteppers, and the same will also happen if the Republicans prevent positive legislation.

    The American public wants politicians who vote for the best interests of their state, not their party or ideologic perspective.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is always a matter of perception how the rhetoric flows. I would like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and he/they are attempting to work on areas they can work on and pick the hill they will die on.


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