Fred Barnes, writing for the Wall Street Journal:
President Obama is sitting out one of the most important policy struggles since he entered the White House. With the government shutdown, it has reached the crisis stage. His statement about the shutdown on Tuesday from the White House Rose Garden was more a case of kibitzing than leading. He still refuses to take charge. He won't negotiate with Republicans, though the fate of ObamaCare, funding of the government and the future of the economic recovery are at stake. He insists on staying on the sidelines—well, almost.
Mr. Obama has rejected conciliation and compromise with Republicans. Instead, he attacks them in sharp, partisan language in speech after speech. His approach—dealing with a deadlock by not dealing with it—is unprecedented. He has gone where no president has gone before.
Can anyone imagine an American president—from Lyndon Johnson to Ronald Reagan, from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton—doing this? Of course not. They didn't see presidential leadership as optional. For them and nearly every other president, it was mandatory. It was part of the job, the biggest part.
LBJ kept in touch daily with Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate, and never missed an opportunity to engage him in reaching agreement on civil rights, taxes, school construction and other contentious issues. Mr. Obama didn't meet one-on-one with Mitch McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, until 18 months into his presidency and doesn't call on him now to collaborate.