Gideon Rachman: The Myth of the Imperial PresidencyRoundup: Media's Take
Gideon Rachman is a journalist who has been the Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator since July 2006.
If you needed confirmation that American liberals and conservatives inhabit parallel universes, just consider the reaction to last week’s deal on the fiscal cliff. Conservatives saw a ruthless Barack Obama, ramming through his agenda. Liberals lamented a limp surrender by the president.
But these two very different lines of attack on Mr Obama have something important in common. Both liberals and conservatives remain addicted to the myth of the imperial president. They expect the occupant of the White House to be a towering figure – a Lincoln, a Roosevelt, a Johnson – who dominates politics and shapes history.
In reality Mr Obama is a prisoner of circumstances. He cannot pass laws or get a budget through without the consent of a House of Representatives that is controlled by his bitter ideological and political foes. No president – however brilliant, determined or wise – could create rational and effective policies from such circumstances.
Many liberals dreamt that Mr Obama would be set free by re-election. Without the burden of running for office, he would be the president of Hollywood dreams: speaking out boldly, vanquishing the bad guys.
Instead they are beginning to fear that Obama II will look much like Obama I...
comments powered by Disqus
- Previously untouched 600BC palace discovered under shrine demolished by Isil in Mosul
- Slate reveals that despite our apology, nothing’s been done to help Guatemalans infected in an experiment worse than Tuskegee
- Russian government website notes that game maker has sent “Secret Hitler” to every US senator
- Scholars debate the future of NATO
- Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War
- James Oliver Horton remembered as a pioneer for African American research
- Theodore Lowi, Zealous Scholar of Presidents and Liberalism, Dies at 85
- What LT. Gen. H.R. McMaster will offer as new national security adviser
- Fareed Zakaria hails historian Nigel Hamilton’s series as the memoir FDR never had the opportunity to write
- French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport