Faced with a choice between solving a problem and winning an issue, Barack Obama invariably opts for the former. The US president is a pragmatist who sees compromise not as a painful necessity but as a virtue. Unfortunately, he has seldom found any partners for peace on Capitol Hill. House Republicans do not lose their seats when they fail to address a challenge such as the budget or immigration. They lose them when they cast unpopular votes.
In his first term, this conflict between presidential temperament and legislative incentive was frustrating to Mr Obama’s liberal base. As the president continued to give but not receive, they came to regard him as timid and weak. Continue reading »