Most fair-minded people, whatever they think of his politics, hope that Barack Obama will be able to make his Hope/Change/NewLogo Administration all that he promised. After all, the fate of the free world and hundreds of millions of taxpayers depend to some degree on him. But President Obama is about to discover what Presidents Bush, Clinton, and even Reagan learned before him – that even the best ideas will be opposed by opponents unwilling to open their minds to the concept. The first real test for President Obama will not be with foreign leaders, but in getting his policies a fair hearing and getting public support for specific plans.
Republicans, understandably, are reluctant to show any interest in Obama’s proposals. They politely say they will look at them, but there is no active desire to support a man commonly seen as a political enemy, not only to Republican ideals but a threat to the personal ambition of leading Republicans. The President hands out appointments and nominations, and there is no chance at all that a man like Obama would give a conservative Republican any of the plum rewards he has at hand. But that opposition may cost Obama more than he expects, Not so long ago, the Republicans enjoyed the very same situation that the Democrats now hold; their man in the White House, having won with a clear majority of the popular vote, and control of both the House and Senate. Yet President Bush found it very hard to get his programs through the process, and some of his most important initiatives, like reforming Social Security and Medicare, never even made it out of committee.
The alert reader will, no doubt, be thinking at this point that some of the obstruction for W came from fellow Republicans. Indeed that is true, and President Obama must expect some of the same friendly-fire. Already, there have been indications that Speaker of the House Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid have their own plans and agendas, and Obama will find that he lacks the mojo to push his plans through the House and Senate without making deals with the mandarins who already positioned themselves in place for just that reason. As every president has learned before him, legislation comes out of Congress and you have to make allies to get anything done. The question to be answered is who will hold the reins in this coming term.