Obama Should Socialize With Congressional Leaders – NYTimes.com

You can decide if the President really is a Socialist, but one thing we can all agree on is that socializing (think: caucusing) is an important skill for any political leader.

Jefferson was under no utopian illusions about the efficacy of political entertaining. He knew that interests would always clash; as his presidential years went by, his goal was to ameliorate party differences, not eliminate them, since elimination was impossible. As he put it, though, “the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches.” So is the ground of governing, as we may hope the incumbent president realizes when his second term begins in earnest.

via Obama Should Socialize With Congressional Leaders – NYTimes.com.


9 thoughts on “Obama Should Socialize With Congressional Leaders – NYTimes.com”

  1. This is an interesting article, although my first reaction is that I would be surprised if some politicians could even sit down in the same room without debating, arguing and trying to kill each other. Then again, I have seen diplomats do the very same thing. I have seen them debate heatedly in General Assembly sessions or the plenary meetings of other Committees and then nonchalantly dine together with great respect and friendship. I guess that is the role of a diplomat. My other response is whether the President would be using American tax dollars to wine and dine other politicians. If so, then this is inappropriate. If not, then I am all for it.

    In any case I do agree that more friendly socializing and team building activities would be beneficial to congress. Here is an article from CNN that discusses the pitfalls and benefits of socializing with co-workers.


    Especially this line

    “While relationships are undoubtedly affected by the structured activities of the day, it can be the side talks on the walk out the door, the brainstorming over coffee or the quick thought texted to a co-worker in the evening that lead to greater things.

    “Informal, relaxed, often private, conversations strengthen bonds,” Patterson says. “They can lead to trust and often provide opportunities to catch and solve problems early — before they get out of control.””

  2. Obama has tried using socializing as a political tool in the past. I remember reports about his golf game with John Boehner and John Kasich last year during the debt-ceiling crisis. This article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/10/obama-boehner-golf-game-biden-kasich_n_875118.html) reported about the golf game saying, “With Democrats and Republicans at odds over debt and deficits, the White House and Boehner’s office have faced questions over whether the players will have time for a discussion about the key issues. But both sides say the golf outing is purely a social occasion, a good chance to get to know each other and reach across the partisan divide.” Obama seemed to be trying to do what the NYtimes article is suggesting then. I don’t know if it was especially successful in that case.

  3. To be completely honest, president Obama has failed to even minutely mirror the socializing skills of Jefferson. Instead of bringing Washington together, he has done created an unprecedented divide in Washington by giving no heed to the concerns of Republicans. If you take a look at his presidency and the list of his highly debatable “50 Accomplishments” as decreed by The Washington Monthly, you will see that he has attacked every single core value of the Republican party. Everything from birth control to gun control. He has an agenda, that is very clear. Unless a major ‘change’ happens (which is what he promised, which means it is highly unlikely) than all you can do is ‘hope’ that our next president is truly a moderate candidate.

  4. In this day and age, socializing such as Jefferson would be hard. I believe it is needed, but some Republicans would clearly attack him and however socializes with the President. After the events of Hurricane Sandy, we saw the President and Governor Christie form a good relationship. However, some conservatives have lashed out at Christie for being friendly to the President. Some, such as Glenn Beck, have declared Christie a false conservative. I believe if the President tries to socialize more, he would be attacked for “not governing” and many who would take him up on offers may be committing political suicide, especially if the Tea Party has ground in their state or district. The political climate is too hostile and socializing may help, but the fallout could be worse. I think if the Tea Party would go away and let real Republicans do their job without worry of persecution I think we can fit back into a healthy political climate. However, if we are continuing with parties thinking the other is going to bring about the end of the world or stating “he (Obama) has done created an unprecedented divide in Washington” something many people say is just creating a larger strain on the discourse. We can disagree but we shouldn’t say things that are clearly not true.


  5. Yes, President Obama should absolutely socialize with members of congress. I think this is absolutely crucial to being an effective leader of anything, whether it’s running the country or leading your family—you have to communicate with, build trust with, and work with members of your team. Obama needs to socialize less with the celebrities and big donors and socialize more with congressional leaders. Obama doesn’t have a problem raising money and boosting the Democratic base—he has a major problem with working on both sides of the aisle. More socializing from President Obama, especially with Republican leaders, will encourage bipartisanship, less demonizing, more engagement, more synergy, and more civility. I think President Obama is a good celebrity but an ineffective President and this is one of the main reasons why. I like how this writer put it, “a complete absence of leadership over the past four years.” (http://www.sbsun.com/letters/ci_22029253/absence-leadership)

    I was a congressional intern in DC this summer and consistently heard from congressmen how “unengaged” President Obama was with members of Congress. (I was just an intern, nothing too important, but what I heard was interesting). They said that Bill Clinton worked very well with both parties. He was friends with everyone, he would call up individual congressmen on the phone, and get things done. President Obama on the other hand is totally aloof. He needs to socialize, collaborate with, and build relationships with both sides, especially the Republicans rights now. He’s the president so he should lead out on this.

  6. I hated Johnny Damon. I am a HUGE Yankees fan, and he was the face of the Boston Red Sox that won the 2004 World Series and sent my team home early. I had never met the man, few times had I heard his voice, and I hardly knew his background, but I hated him. His long beard, his batting stance, his weak throwing arm, and his cheesy smile. I hated it all until two years later, in 2006, he put on the pinstripes, and played for my favorite team. He quickly became one of my favorite players. It was an entertaining experience to watch him play in a Yankee uniform. I can sheepishly look back now and say that nothing about the man changed (except for his haircut, required by Yankee management), and I had grown to really respect and admire him.
    I feel that politics, and those involved, fit into a simliar scenario. Politicians and pundits become passionate about backing up their platform, and vehemently opposing beliefs of “opponents” just because they are on one team and are expected to do so, just as I felt obligated to hate Johnny Damon. But getting to know and understand who Johnny Damon was through the lens of friend, rather than foe, I was able to appreciate him. I know this story may seem unrelated, but I think that social settings allow for people to see through that same “friend lens” rather from the hostile viewpoint of “enemy” that the setting in the House or Senate might facilitate, just as the Red Sox uniform did for me. I feel that Jefferson’s example is a good one, and what could it hurt for President Obama to follow suite?


  7. If there is one president in recent history that understood how to work with congress and to apply political capitol it was president Johnson. He understood the processes of congress, the people who where in the body, and the constituents that they represented so well that politics and compromise were his way of accomplishing the passage of major liberal agendas. Whether it was medicare, the war in Vietnam, or the Great Society, he was a capable leader, who was able to get people to cooperate and solve problems. That’s what we need to see from the President in these negotiations. If we are to solve America’s problems, the real key is compromise. I have voted for the president twice, he is excellent at being a politician, so I hope that he will use politics as a means to an end to solve many problems during his second term.


  8. It IS vital for our Commander and Chief to socialize with members of Congress and the Senate; it is vital to communicate with, build trust with, and work with your “team”. With such a bipartisan chasm dividing Republicans and Democrats, one can say that President Obama needs to be even more social, even more amiable and more personal with congressmen and people of party influence to restore our country to “one country, indivisible.” I enjoyed reading this article in the NYT and reading about Jefferson’s approach towards handling differences in Washington. It’s true, and, if Obama is to get things done with the country largely behind him during a time when every single state signed a petition to succeed from the union, he needs to learn to warm up to Congress and win their hearts and minds. He should do this for the next 4 years, not solely when he needs help: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28732342/ns/politics-white_house/t/obama-builds-relationship-congress/#.UL5_7uRX1xU

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