Friday, June 24, 2011

Can Presidents Ever Work With the Opposition Party Like Governors Do?

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has done something that President Obama can only dream he could do.  Christie worked with a Democratically-controlled House and Senate in New Jersey to pass historic pension and health care reform that is expected to save the state $130 billion over the next 30 years.

This is not the first example of a governor of one party working with a state legislature dominated by the opposition party to achieve good outcomes for a state.  George W. Bush had a great record or working with the Democrats in Texas when he was the governor there.  In fact, a few Democratic office holders from Texas showed up at the Republican National Convention in 2000 to sing Bush’s praises.

Bill Clinton also appeared to have a good relationship with Republican legislators in Arkansas when he was governor of that state.  They achieved a record of accomplishment together that enable Clinton to catapult himself to the Presidency in 1992.

Unfortunately, for Clinton and Bush, their success with opposition party leaders did not continue when they became President of the United States.  Both ended up serving two terms, but both faced fierce opposition and sometimes vitriolic attacks from the opposing party.

The national news media in these instances tends to blame the party the respective reporters don’t like instead of examining the phenomena.  I wish they would do extensive reporting on why governors of both parties who have won the Presidency with strong records of reaching out to the opposition party face little more than gridlock once they get to Washington, D.C.  It may have happened, but I have never seen a news reports that really investigate the reasons that former state chief executives with great records of bipartisanship can’t achieve the same outcome as President.

Could somebody in the national media really take a look into this situation, which has existed for decades?  There are many of us out here in the other states beyond the beltway who would like to know if the political situation in our nation’s capitol is so toxic that any future President is likely to face unreasonable opposition no matter what he or she proposes.

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