The Campaigner in Chief

Well, as the fiscal cliff looms, it appears that the Campaigner-in-Chief is showing what he means by working out a bi-partisan compromise.

Do we find him sitting in a room with the House Republicans discussing options? No.

We find him meeting with business leaders in press-conference type sessions, making pronouncements about what the Republicans should be doing to compromise:

“Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. Everybody’s,” Obama said.

“And that means that 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime.”

What’s wrong with this, and his statement?

1) He is saying Republicans can compromise by doing exactly what he wants them to do, without him making any concessions. That apparently is his definition of compromise.

2) His statement about what percentage of businesses are affected is one of the “facts” in disagreement between him and the Republicans.  Republicans insist that a lot of small businesses do make more than the $250K and would be affected. For that matter, even if he is correct that most don’t, the $250K change sets a ceiling that discourages those businesses from growing beyond that point and prevents them from generating the new jobs that that growth would create. It could encourage them to stay small, or become smaller, cutting jobs, to stay within the defined threshhold.

3) It would be just as true to for him to have said: “Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on all of everybody’s income. Everybody’s, And that means that all Americans and all small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime.” Congress can pass whatever tax law they choose to. He spoke a truism about what Congress can do, but is implying, and letting the press infer, that because they can do the option he mentioned, that it is the correct option, when it is merely an option, one of many, that needs to be chosen among. Discussing the merits among those options, and working toward one mutually acceptable, is the bipartisan process of compromise he is supposed to be doing. This isn’t.

4) Obama is stuck in campaign mode. Talking points and sound bites are the only way he knows how to work. We need him to show executive skills to actually govern. Instead we are audience to a perpetual campaign.

As a related aside, there is a connection between this and a comment I made to someone at work today.  I said I had learned long ago in my college days, that usually when you are discussing something with someone who disagrees with you, that if you try to answer their question exactly as they asked it, you are almost guaranteed to not be able to prove your point to them. The bias in their question, and the assumptions underlying their original statement, preclude a fair presentation of your own information. The only way to get your point across is to rephrase the question to get to the real core of what you are trying to discuss, and then answer that question.

Obama is an artist of the biased question. By use of his assumptions he makes what should really be the beginning question for discussion the final conclusion of the matter — he cuts out all chance for civil discourse. He ends up appearing more like Moses coming down from the Mount making the pronouncements from on high, than anyone actually involved in a negotiation with Congress. (I do admit to being curious as to who is at the top of his Mount from which his pronouncements come.)

In conclusion, be prepared for another 4 years of campaigning. That’s what Obama is, a career campaigner, not a career politician.

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