In reference to Obama’s legacy potentially being one of failure, Ron Fournier writes in the National Journal today:
Actually, it’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t be his legacy. History judges U.S. presidents based upon what they did and did not accomplish. The obstinacy of their rivals and the severity of their circumstances is little mitigation. Great presidents overcome great hurdles.
In Obama’s case, the modern GOP is an obstructionist, rudderless party often held hostage by extremists. So … get over it. His response to The New York Times is another illustration that Obama and his liberal allies have a limited—and limiting—definition of presidential leadership.
This prompts the question, why does Fournier internalize the view (as many others have) that it is the GOP that is obstructionist? After all, in our system of government, as it was conceived, it is the Congress that puts forth and passes legislation and the President’s power is supposed to be limited to approving or rejecting that legislation. Therefore, it is at least as accurate — if not more so — to say that Obama is obstructionist in that he is thwarting legislation that Congress (or at least the House) wishes to pass. The point here is that the word obstructionist, when it comes to legislation, is often used to pejoratively categorize the opposing side, yet there cannot be, by definition, obstructionism if the side doing the accusing were to cave in and accept the other party’s wishes. Thus, Obama could end the obstructionism that Fournier decries if he agrees to accept all of the GOP’s policies. Clearly, that is not the solution that Fournier has in mind, yet his writing indicates that he would like the GOP to do precisely this. Obstructionism may be an obstacle to achieving one’s utopia, but Fournier and co. should bear in mind that a system of checks and balances only works because of the ability of the party out of power to obstruct the wishes of the party in power. Thank god for it.