Rich Galen

In the '60s a battle cry of anti-war (and anti-Lyndon Johnson) college students was "Lead, follow or get out of the way;" a concept that morphed into lyrics for Bob Dylan's anthem, "The Times They are A-Changin.'"

“Come Congressmen, Senators
Please heed the call.
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall…”

President Obama has tried his version of leading - which has been mostly attempting to bully Congressional Republicans into submission. It hasn't worked.

For about five minutes after his reelection we were told he was going to spend the next two years helping Democrats regain the U.S. House (after his insistence on a still-indecipherable piece of legislation known as the Affordable Care Act led to its loss in 2010).

It quickly became clear that the technical aspects of redistricting together whips a cracking, if not fracturing Democrat base, wrapped around a stubbornly slow economic recovery were not likely to lead to the desired result; but rather might be seen as Obama's Folly.

His job approval numbers became worrisome as the glow of the November result faded, and the reality of Congressional approval in the mid-teens meant it couldn't get much lower and the general public didn't much care.

Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi trip off the tongues of those of us within the Beltway and regular viewers of cable news programming, but for most people the federal government is represented by one person: Barack Obama.

Wagging a Presidential finger in the face of Congressional Republicans wasn't working; even Hill Democrats were becoming vocally queasy about the Predator Drone program. The White House insisted the House and Senate show their budgetary hands before the OMB produced the Administration's version and it became clear that there needed to be a course change. Hence the "charm offensive" and a budget that includes Republican-backed ideas like Chained CPI.

Most Republicans will, correctly, complain that there is still far too little attention to the yawning debt divide and too much attention on punishing success; but that's an argument for another time and place.

The President has backed down to a significant degree from his anti-Bain positions of the Presidential campaign because he appears to have finally recognized that in the American system if you're in the majority (or in the White House) you have an obligation to help govern.

Many House Republicans have not yet indicated they have learned that lesson. True, they have voted on, and passed, jobs bills, economic bills, tax bills (well, you know what I mean) and recently a budget.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.