What does a president do when his party controls only the Senate and the House is filled with rabid, hateful, anti-administration fanatics? And even worse, the president just won an overwhelming victory, yet his legislative goals are routinely thwarted.
Well, if your name is Ronald Reagan you reach across the aisle to like-minded Democrats to see if there are areas where both sides can compromise to pass legislation. You call these congressmen and try to establish a genial one-on-one relationship. You don’t particularly care who gets credit, as long as the job gets done. In person, you are self-deprecating and try to make others feel comfortable.
If your name is Barack Obama, you ram through legislation without any input from Republicans, while at the same time demonizing the opposition as evil, self-interested tools of greedy business. You encourage your supporters and the media (but I repeat myself) to personally attack Republicans at every opportunity.
When circumstances finally force you to meet with the opposition, sometimes it looks like you wish you were wearing rubber gloves when shaking hands. During the meeting you’ve always got to show you’re the smartest guy in the room. And you personally care very much who gets the credit, because you’re always ready to dish out the blame.
Based on results so far, my father’s method has produced agreement and legislation — while Obama’s method yields gridlock. Hence the introduction of his new "Charm Offensive."
My prediction is the offensive will fail. Administrations reflect the personality of the man in the Oval Office. My father was someone who genuinely liked people. He literally met thousands each year when he worked for General Electric and before he went into politics.
Ronald Reagan knew success could be fleeting. His career went from Hollywood to TV pitchman in what seemed like the blink of an eye, yet he never lost the common touch. Even while he was president, my father took time to send thousands of handwritten letters to people at the top and the bottom of the social pecking order.
Obama, on the other hand, has been coddled his entire career. He went to Harvard, joined the political elite and has essentially lived in a bubble. When he talks about the common man he describes them thusly, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Republicans will now only meet with him in groups, because you can’t trust what Obama says in private. As House Speaker John Boehner observed, “Two guys behind closed doors just isn’t the right way to deal with these big problems, and it hasn’t produced results.”
What’s more, Obama was caught red-handed in a lie when he blamed the origin of the sequester on Republicans, when it was his White House staff that came up with the (bad) idea.
For the good of this great country I hope Obama is able to reach an agreement with Republicans, but I think he’s going to learn charm offensives are more successful when one avoids the temptation to be offensive in the first place.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Click Here Now.
© Mike Reagan