One would think that with re-election—by an Electoral College landslide, notably—people would finally accept that President Barack Obama is the leader of the country. But still, despite the failed efforts of the birthers and Donald Trump and everyone else who just couldn't imagine that a majority of voters said Obama should be president, the efforts to discredit Obama persist.
Almost immediately after Obama was re-elected (becoming only the fifth president in U.S. history to win a majority, and not just a plurality, of the popular vote twice), the self-anointed realists declared that Obama had no "mandate." Never mind those 332 Electoral College votes, never mind the fact that he managed to win re-election despite residual racism and a general unhappiness with the slowness of the economic recovery. It was deemed that because Obama won by just three percentage points in the popular vote, that he somehow had no right to assume he had earned the authority to lead. This argument is especially remarkable when one considers the comments made by disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who said after the GOP had taken majorities in both chambers under President George Bush that since the Republicans controlled the White House, the House, and the Senate, "we control the agenda." Not much room there for cross-party compromise.
But it's also nonsensical because in our closely-divided country, presidential elections are going to be pretty close. And that means that no one would have a so-called "mandate." And that, to follow, would mean that no one has the authority to lead. That's bad for the country, although it is a plus for all those people who claim that Obama has "failed to lead" because he can't constitutionally stop congressional Republicans from blocking his agenda.
Then, we have Mack McLarty and Nelson Cunningham, two former Clinton White House officials, suggesting that Obama should invite Mitt Romney in to help fix the economy. What is the point of that—to appease those who can't stand Obama and still can't believe Romney lost? This isn't modern Little League, where everyone gets a trophy even if they lose. This is national politics and policy. Obama should of course invite Republicans into the decision-making-process—and it would be nice if congressional Republicans saw themselves as partners, instead of leaders in the effort to derail a president of the opposing party. But if Obama is going to being someone in from the outside, why on earth would he pick Romney? The Bain Capital executive tried to convince voters that his venture capital experience made him an expert on job creation, and people, for the most part, didn't buy it. What could he bring to the table that others could not? If Obama wants to bring in someone from the outside, he could tap former GOP senators like Pete Domenici and Alan Simpson—both experienced lawmakers and negotiators who know how the federal budget works, and who served during an era when congressmen actually talked to people in the other party.
Mitt Romney has hundreds of millions of dollars. He lost the election, and presumably is disappointed, perhaps for the first time in his life. He doesn't deserve a consolation prize. And Obama deserves the chance to lead, as president.
- Read Jamie Stiehm: The FBI Sabotages Petraeus—And Obama
- Read Susan Milligan: Let Alabama, Texas, and Florida Secede From the United States
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