Monday, July 14, 2014

The Impossible Presidency

Ron Brownstein notes the similarities between two-term Presidencies of Clinton, Bush and Obama in The National Journal.

The unconstrained political warfare symbolized by House Speaker John Boehner's pledge to sue President Obama for allegedly abusing his executive authority pushes this presidency farther down a rocky road that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would painfully recognize.

In one key respect, each president's tenure has followed a similar arc. Each initially sought the White House promising to bridge the nation's widening partisan divide. Clinton pledged to transcend "brain-dead policies in both parties" with his "New Democrat" agenda. Bush declared himself a "compassionate conservative" who would govern as "a uniter, not a divider." Obama emerged with his stirring 2004 Democratic convention speech, evoking the shared aspirations of red and blue America, and took office embodying convergence and reconciliation. But by this point in their respective second terms, each man faced the stark reality that the country was more divided than it was when he took office.

While it is inaccurate to say that the two parties' behavior as "opposition party" is the same, the arc of all three Presidencies is strikingly similar.

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