He's eager for diplomatic talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, but talking to Fox News, that evil conservative cable network, is just out of the question. He says that he's everyone's president, except of course those "Tea Party" radicals controlled by conservative talk-show hosts. For all his silvery talk about openness, transparency and bipartisanship, President Obama is acting more like a Chicago political-machine steamroller-"It's my way, or you become part of the highway!"
Bipartisanship to Washington liberals seems to be an invitation for conservatives to go along or get out of the way-vote with us for healthcare reform or we'll change the rules and use the 'nuclear' option! If Republicans and conservative Democrats won't help those pushing for sixty Senate votes, they'll use the "reconciliation shuffle" to garner 50% of the votes in both houses to force their way!
Such win-at-all-cost change agents may win a key vote, but they may very well look back at such a victory as the day the tide of America's culture war turned against them. Losers don't forget heavy-handed leaders. They don't just get mad; they go to the polls to turn the rascals out!
When you initiate change, conflict goes with the territory. Even amateur leaders know you don't shoot the messenger or silence dissent. President Obama might learn from Abraham Lincoln when he counseled, "I don't like that man. I must get to know him better." True change agents invite dissent. They don't avoid or in any way demean those who disagree. They honor them for caring enough to openly fight for what they believe in. They meet with them, listen to their ideas and search for valuable ideas to incorporate into a workable plan more can support.
Consensus is not agreement; consensus is achieved when those who disagree have been fully heard and their insights considered and tested for value. Democrats keep saying Republicans haven't shared any positive ideas, but it is more accurate to say that they haven't presented plans liberals or their constituencies like. Democrats have blocked votes on Republican amendments and refused to let their bills be voted on. There is agreement on the need to deal with the healthcare coverage problem; it is too important a change to not have a more bipartisan solution.
Mr. President, you said that you were going to have to earn your Nobel Peace Prize. Start by earning it here in our own country! Work for a truly bipartisan plan that might actually make a difference in the healthcare challenge we face. Risk really leading instead of just pleasing your partisan interest groups and calling it hope and change!
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