Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Continuous campaigning is not governing

Campaigning and governing are not the same thing. You can be good at one and bad at another. What doesn't work is campaigning 365 days of the year, and that's what Congress and the White House are doing.

President Obama has shown his skills as a campaigner. He has won two national elections against heavy odds both times — the first time because the primary road was hazardous and the second because he faced a conservative backlash against his policies.

Now look at him: He faces three significant challenges involving the deaths of American diplomats in Libya (and the apparent administration attempt to minimize the nature of the attack against the U.S. outpost), the IRS targeting of conservative political groups for special scrutiny, and his Justice Department's taking of Associated Press phone records. The president has remained in the campaign mode throughout these problems, pushing his programs to voters while ignoring the voters who really matter — the ones inside the big building on Capitol Hill.

Congress has also been guilty of choosing campaigning over governing. It has been reported that the orientation of freshman members of Congress includes a weekly quota for raising money. And Sen. Mitch McConnell let slip the truth three years ago when he said Republicans' top legislative agenda was to prevent Obama from winning a second term.

Until the leaders at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue decide to govern together instead of campaign continuously against each other, little or nothing will be accomplished.

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