Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog has a good summary of political scientist and high priest of Beltway centrism Norm Ornstein's column in the National Journal, The Myth of Presidential Leadership, blasting the Beltway media for their Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency in this post, Busting the Green Lantern Myth Once and For All:
If there was any doubt left that the spasm of punditry about Obama’s
inability to “work his will” on Congress like his predecessors was
fundamentally lazy, the American Enterprise Institute’s very
authoritative Norm Ornstein pretty much lays the subject to rest in a column at National Journal:
[A]t nearly every speech I give, someone asks about
President Obama’s failure to lead. Of course, that question has been
driven largely by the media, perhaps most by Bob Woodward. When Woodward
speaks, Washington listens, and he has pushed the idea that Obama has
failed in his fundamental leadership task—not building relationships
with key congressional leaders the way Bill Clinton did, and not
“working his will” the way LBJ or Ronald Reagan did.
Now, after the failure to get the background-check bill
through the Senate, other reporters and columnists have picked up on the
same theme, and I have grown increasingly frustrated with how the
mythology of leadership has been spread in recent weeks. I have yelled
at the television set, “Didn’t any of you ever read Richard Neustadt’s
classic Presidential Leadership? Haven’t any of you taken Politics 101
and read about the limits of presidential power in a
But the issue goes beyond that, to a willful ignorance of
history. No one schmoozed more or better with legislators in both
parties than Clinton. How many Republican votes did it get him on his
signature initial priority, an economic plan? Zero in both houses. And
it took eight months to get enough Democrats to limp over the finish
line. How did things work out on his health care plan? How about his
impeachment in the House?
No one knew Congress, or the buttons to push with every key
lawmaker, better than LBJ. It worked like a charm in his famous 89th,
Great Society Congress, largely because he had overwhelming majorities
of his own party in both houses. But after the awful midterms in 1966,
when those swollen majorities receded, LBJ’s mastery of Congress didn’t
No one defined the agenda or negotiated more brilliantly
than Reagan. Did he “work his will”? On almost every major issue, he had
to make major compromises with Democrats, including five straight years
with significant tax increases. But he was able to do it—as he was able
to achieve a breakthrough on tax reform—because he had key Democrats
willing to work with him and find those compromises.
All the “successful” presidents had either overwhelming margins in
Congress or oppositions willing to work with them. Obama had the first
for two years, and managed to get quite a bit done. He’s never, even for
a moment, had the second, a problem that has been greatly exacerbated
by the unprecedented phenomenon of a de facto 60 vote requirement for
passage of major legislation in the Senate.
And so, says Ornstein:
[I]t is past time to abandon selective history and wishful
thinking, and realize the inherent limits of presidential power, and the
very different tribal politics that Obama faces compared with his
Got that, Woodward? Hear what he says, MoDo? Are you listening, Mr.
Brooks? OK: cut out the crap and stop expecting this or any other
president to be a super-hero.
The world would be a better place without the pretentious assholes of the Beltway media villagers, who know less about politics and policy than they pretend. All they really care about is access to people in power at their Georgetown cocktail parties. They want to be part of the ruling "elite."