Jonathan Zasloff is frustrated with Senate Democrats over their failure to pass a jobs bill by any means necessary and angry with President Obama for his failure to speak up:
It would be really nice if the President would knock some heads together on this. But on this page, apparently I’m not allowed to criticize him.
So I’ll just say, wouldn’t it be great if, say, there were a national party leader, perhaps elected by the whole people, who is a superb public speaker and has a lot of political weapons at his disposal, who might go into complete campaign mode now?
Exactly whose heads could Obama knock together? Republicans have no reason to bend to White House pressure, and the same goes for difficult Democrats like Ben Nelson, who use occasions like these to play king for a day -- and he'll continue to do so, even when Republicans are in the majority.
"But [Obama] could stump and use the bully pulpit to pressure Republicans!" He could, yes, but I doubt it will have the desired effect; not only is the bully pulpit mostly ineffective as a way to govern -- at most, it affects public opinion at the margins -- but presidential rhetoric does more to polarize the opposition than it does to sway public opinion. In all likelihood, a presidential push for the jobs bill would further solidify Republican opposition while leaving the average voter unfazed.
I feel like a broken record whenever I make this point, but I will repeat it as long as pundits continue to make this error: The president is really -- incredibly -- constrained in what he can do about domestic policy. Appointments aside, the president doesn't have much leverage against senators at the pivot point of a filibuster. Obama could canvass the country in support of a jobs bill, but if Ben Nelson opts not to vote for cloture, there isn't much more the president can do. That's not to say that there aren't times to criticize Obama for inaction, but this really isn't one of them, and I wish progressives would realize that instead of reflexively blaming Obama for his "failures."
-- Jamelle Bouie
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