BY MICHAEL S. JOHNSON
One of the failings of our system of governance, former Republican Leader Bob Michel once observed, is that you can no longer tell where the campaigns end and governing begins.
That trend has defined American politics for sometime. The differences between campaigning and governing have gotten less and less apparent. And this year, they seemed to have disappeared all together, after a brief flurry of off-again, on-again, off again, bipartisan, bicameral, bi-branch exchanges that showed promise, but no permanency.
The combatants in American politics, conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, have dropped any pretense of governing. It is all campaigning, all the time. And no one did it in more grandly than the President.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden said the other day that he has never seen a President step away from governing the way President Barack Obama has. Previous presidents who served in divided government where Republicans controlled one part and Democrats the other chose not to cut and run in the face of serious challenges. Ronald Reagan didn’t. Nor did George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton. When the country’s challenges demanded it, they stepped up, not away. They found common ground, sorted through the politics and partisanship, made decisions and resolved contentious issues like taxes, Social Security, budgets and welfare reform.
When President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes: “Isn’t it your job as president to find solutions to these problems, to get results, to figure out a way to get it done?”’ the response was pretty much no. The President said it was his job to present the country with a vision, presumably so others could govern. Continue reading