The Magazine

Waiting for 2014

May 13, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 33 • By FRED BARNES
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Instead, he’s often gigged by the media for small stuff like devoting too much time to golf and taking too many taxpayer-paid vacations. Obama seems unfazed. And there’s no reason to be upset, since he gets a pass on bigger things.

Giving up on a serious agenda over the next 18 months is little sacrifice for the president. He has practically no influence with Congress, and that includes Democrats. He’ll simply deal with what shows up in his inbox. If Congress passes immigration reform legislation, he’ll claim credit.

In the meantime, Obama can nick away at Republicans, tarring their reputation. A national Gallup poll in early April revealed that the biggest criticism of Republicans is that they’re “too inflexible” or “unwilling to compromise.”

That’s where Obama’s pursuit of a grand bargain comes in. When Republicans balk at talks, they’re inflexible and won’t compromise with the president. But if they negotiate, they’ll face a choice: either agree to a bad deal that divides Republicans or be accused of spurning a compromise.

Putting Republicans in this box is gamesmanship at its cleverest. But leadership it’s not. That’s for past and future presidents. 

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