Bob Barr: I Miss Bill Clinton | TIME.com

2
Oct

Bob Barr: I Miss Bill Clinton | TIME.com

I never thought I’d long for the days when Bill Clinton was president, but Barack Obama‘s arrogance and lack of political savvy has pushed me to that point. These past days, during which the Congress and the White House have engaged in a game of budgetary brinksmanship, have made clear Obama possesses neither the willingness nor the ability to negotiate in good faith like his Democratic predecessor. Obama is no Bill Clinton; and the country is the worse for it.

During the winter of 1995-1996, when Newt Gingrich was speaker and Bill Clinton president, and the two branches faced off in a major—indeed, historic—budget battle, we had a chief executive who understood the practice of politics was not a zero-sum game. Both of these men—Clinton and Gingrich—knew that each side needed to play to their base and press for every advantage they could; but that at the end of the day, at the end of the bout, agreement must be reached for the good of the country and both sides could then claim victory. Both leaders understood what master politician Ronald Reagan practiced so well: There is no limit to what a man can accomplish so long as he doesn’t care who gets credit for it….

Polling played a key role in both sides’ calculations in the winter of ’95-’96. In our Republican caucus, we were presented daily results of overnight polling, enabling us to gauge the ups and downs of the voters’ views of the “government shut down.” The Clinton White House conducted its own polling, which enabled Clinton to thrust and parry with consummate skill. In the end, after three weeks of votes and vetoes, the Republican-dominated Congress sent to the president a budget bill he agreed to sign—and for which he claimed victory. Importantly, the lessons learned by both sides in that messy process laid the groundwork for the months of ultimately successful budget skirmishes that followed.

It can be done; but it takes a degree of skill and savvy thus far absent from this president’s repertoire. Hopefully, such proficiency will somehow be discovered by Team Obama; and hopefully it will happen before the truly critical vote on the debt ceiling arrives in two weeks.

via Bob Barr: I Miss Bill Clinton | TIME.com.

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