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President Obama--Principles, Pragmatism, or Politics as Usual?

By Robert Romano

Although President Barack Obama has cast himself as a uniter who will usher in a bipartisan era, he may be little more than a rubber stamp for a Congress that is dominated by one-party control—his Party.

Only, ironically enough, it may not be “his” Party after all.

As reported by Politico in “Pelosi draws her lines with Obama,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is determined to pursue Congressional Democrats' agenda—with or without President Obama's backing.

If history serves as any indicator, Democrats will attempt to get their most-prized, radical policy agenda items enacted during the current Congressional session: costly cap-and-trade, nationalized health care, bailouts for the states, completing the nationalization of the banking system, union card-check, and a higher education bailout.

Flush from dominating electoral victories for the House, Senate, and Presidency, Democrats have not had such an opportunity to fully enact their policy agenda free from the constraints of the two-party system for more than a decade. In fact, it was way back in 1993-94 when the Democrats controlled both Chambers and the Oval Office that they tried to push through such radical agenda items as socialized medicine.

If they can now maintain party discipline in the legislative process, they need only one Republican in the Senate to defect on each top agenda item in order to break any hope of a filibuster.

And they may be highly successful in that regard, given the propensity of many Senate Republicans to seek common ground with their colleagues across the aisle.

Clearly, this is not an opportunity that Ms. Pelosi will be willing to pass up. She know that politics has an ebb and flow to it—and Congressional Democrats will become increasingly vulnerable through each successive election cycle, which in the House happens every two years.

Which means one should expect their agenda to be rammed through Congress with hasty abandon. And then the only roadblock to passage would be President Obama himself who has already stated he has some considerable policy differences with his overeager colleagues at the other end of the Avenue.

Which may leave President Obama with a dilemma: Will he be able to take a stand against his own Party? Can he rein in a Congress determined to push a radical agenda? Or, will he be anything more than a rubber stamp?

It is up to Mr. Obama to be a check on the excesses a one-party-dominated Congress. If he cannot assert a more principled counterpoint to the Congressional policies now being proposed, then he will not, like his hero Lincoln, “belong to the ages.”

He will be yet another captive of the past whose only legacy is politics as usual.

Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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