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Obama Misunderstands the Role of the Presidency

Constant campaign mode.

12:00 AM, Sep 2, 2010 • By GARY ANDRES
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Presidential scholar Charles O. Jones, in his book The Presidency in a Separated System, offers this assessment about the lessons every White House needs to learn: “Newly elected presidents are fresh from an experience that is all-consuming and extraordinarily self-centered. A presidential campaign of perpetual motion focuses exclusively on the candidate.” 

But campaigns don’t have eternal life. “It is at that precise point of triumph that a new leader must be the most disciplined in acknowledging the requirements of a transition from candidate to president,” Jones argues. “The first lesson, then, for a president in a separated system is to learn what is required to do the new job, understanding the campaign experiences and campaign workers have little to offer toward that end.”

If Obama and his staff ever take a breather from attacking John Boehner, finding new culture fights, or figuring out new ways to inject the federal government into state and local questions, they should read Jones’s book.

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