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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 12/23/2010

Obama's lame-duck session lesson: leadership

By Jonathan Capehart

On "Morning Joe" today, Joe Scarborough praised the accomplishments of the lame-duck session as what can happen when President Obama reaches out to Republicans. He has a point. The deal on extending the Bush tax cuts and unemployment insurance, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," ratification of New START, the Sept. 11 first-responders bill and the food safety bill all got done in the time crunch of the lame-duck session.

But there was something else that was different. The president took control. The president showed leadership.

Obama is a constitutional law professor who came to Washington committed to the ideal that Congress is a co-equal branch of government. That's what the Constitution says, by the way. Problem is, Congress doesn't actually operate that way. Remember when Obama handed over crafting the stimulus package and the health-care reform legislation to congressional democrats? What a mess of a process that was.

At his press conference yesterday, Obama crowed that the accomplishments of the lame-duck session were the result of Democrats and Republicans working together to reach compromises for the American people. True. But it also was the result of a president who learned that if he wants to get a job done in Washington, he's got to do it himself.

By Jonathan Capehart  | December 23, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

reminds of the first year I spent in Washington: 1982.

Posted by: bill_delgrosso | December 23, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Amen. Too bad he didn't learn it a year ago--he might not have lost his majorities.

Posted by: 1toughlady | December 23, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Um, what exactly has the President done?

He caved on budget-busting tax cuts for the rich, "won" a treaty confirmation that should have been a given ... and took credit when DADT was repealed not because of his efforts but despite his lack of same.

The last few weeks have only reinforced my disappointment with Mr. Obama's inadequate leadership qualities.

Posted by: Itzajob | December 23, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

his "raings" (poll numbers) will increase now.

the new crew coming in January better get used to the word VETO and Executive Order.

The President did good.


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 23, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Um, what exactly has the President done?

He caved on budget-busting tax cuts for the rich, "won" a treaty confirmation that should have been a given ... and took credit when DADT was repealed not because of his efforts but despite his lack of same.

The last few weeks have only reinforced my disappointment with Mr. Obama's inadequate leadership qualities.

Posted by: Itzajob
__________
That is ridiculous. 60 votes to close debate. 60. 1) The pres "caved" on tax cuts fro wealthy because congress you know CONGRESS) did not have to votes to move extend them. Instead of getting nothing for nothing he wisely married the tax cuts to unemployment passage. Not a great win, but not a loss. 2) Why in God's name do you think the treaty confirmation should have been a given in this day in age? Hawks hated it and could not see the vision of lowering the arms race - and were vocal about it. The President did not show lack of leadership on DADT. He ws smart, and knowing his attackers, backed off from personal drive to moving it strategically throgh the Department of Defence and congressional leaders. For him to push it on the Reps they would only recoil, where as now, they had to contend with siding against the Pentagon. Brilliant. That is leadership, just not force.

Posted by: cadam72 | December 23, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Cadam72, you are 100% correct of course, but trying to explain the nuances of politics to people like Itzajob are a waste of time. A lot of the left fail to realize that the President has to try to achieve an ambitious legislative agenda with a ruinously divided Congress and in the teeth of a recession (which makes people turn inward). The right, of course, are on the whole crazed nincompoops, who want the President to fail, no matter that his failure means their failure. It's sad. But, what's not sad is that despite these fairly signficant obstacles the President has managed to pass much of his agenda and what's far from sad and positively exhilarating is that his "competition" in 2012 might be Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin. Running against Obama for President of the United States. I don't ... even ... know what to say ...

Posted by: chert | December 23, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Too bad he didn't learn it a year ago--he might not have lost his majorities.

Posted by: 1toughlady | December 23, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

------------------------------------------'

You got that right...hope it keeps up...Happy Holidays :)

Posted by: scrappyc20001 | December 23, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Too bad he didn't learn it a year ago--he might not have lost his majorities.

Posted by: 1toughlady | December 23, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

------------------------------------------'

You got that right...hope it keeps up...Happy Holidays :)

Posted by: scrappyc20001 | December 23, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The lesson learned is "Never give up just because the situation is difficult."

You might be winning.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 23, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The lesson is: Fight, dammit!!! - don't waste time trying to find elusive middle ground with a GOP that thinks that Piek Botha is too liberal

Posted by: staussfamily | December 23, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"budget busting tax cuts for the rich" -- This statement (and any like it) is based on the presumption that government has a right to all of your income, and so government “gives” you something when it allows you to keep a portion of that income.

Posted by: AndrewL418 | December 23, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I take an opposite position. The business of the government can get done when enough Republicans decide to participate.

Posted by: GBED989 | December 23, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

well, i guess one could say that
the lame duck wasn't so lame.....

((rolling)))

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 23, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I take an opposite position. The business of the government can get done when enough Republicans decide to participate.

Posted by: GBED989 | December 23, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Leadership isn't the issue here... its where he's leading! The captain of a sinking ship is lauded by everyone (except those on the ship)... he continues to move against (or ignore) the will of the majority of Americans (as seen on Nov 2) and it will catch up with him. Hopefully before he destroys the very fabric of this nation.

Posted by: DrDave4 | December 23, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

How hilarious that Obama partisans like chert and Cadam72 seem to think I am on the left.

But whatever. Have a great holiday!

Posted by: Itzajob | December 23, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Curious that none of the punditry have speculated about the effects of Rahm Emmanuel's departure on the Obama approach. It seemed to me the Emmanuel was very "Congress-centric" and played the game like a legislator rather than the executive - but I'm not inside the beltway.

How about it, Capeheart, Klein, anybody?

Posted by: j3hess | December 23, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"... the presumption that government has a right to all of your income, and so government “gives” you something when it allows you to keep a portion of that income."
Posted by: AndrewL418

Not exactly.

Government establishes and protects property rights in the first place, without which there'd be darn little income to begin with. It provides much of the infrastructure, physical, institutional, and legal, that allows enterprise to thrive. It educates the workers an employer hires. It provides the military that protects the homeland, secures shipping lanes, and makes sure we have access to foreign oil. It negotiates the trade deals that give US investors access to overseas markets.

Some people get extraordinary benefits from government support for the economy - and they should pay their fair share, reflecting their extraordinary returns.

Posted by: j3hess | December 23, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The problem is our goose is cooked from our Superman Complex that gives us the right to put on the red, white, and blue cape and invade and occupy a defenseless country like Iraq to save them for their own good or is it ours??

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 23, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

To 1toughlady; Ma'am, you hit the nail right on the head. Had he showed leadership,we may not be giving the $250,000 and over crowd shameful tax breaks either. I hope he concentrates on jobs and eliminating the underhanded tax loopholes that the crooked companies use and also eliminating the farm subsidies(not for legitimate farmers)and all the other graff the Republicans hand out like Cracker Jacks.

Posted by: walkman1956 | December 23, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

A good post Mr. Capehart.

I wish he had shown the same type of leadership on healthcare, financial reform, bailouts, TARP, HAMP. He might have avoided the sheer uselessness of his "achievements" on them. 1toughlady & walkman1956 have it right.

He could have achieved real reforms, but he followed the Clinton/DLC line & disconnected from his donor/voter/supporter base of real life intel & feedback & went Clinton secret during negotiations. After that his other actions just hastened the loss of his campaign OFA knowledge base/intel feed.

Posted by: nyer11 | December 27, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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