Can President Obama Negotiate with the Republicans?

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

Almost immediately after witnessing the crushing defeat suffered by President Barack Obama in last week’s congressional elections, the political pundits began to ask how Mr. Obama might bargain with the newly elected Republican majority in both houses of Congress. Let me answer that. He won’t. He cannot. He simply doesn’t know how.

Despite Mr. Obama’s almost encyclopedic knowledge of facts on a variety of issues, he lacks the ability to convert that reservoir of data into workable solutions.

To illustrate the point let me begin with an anecdote. When I was in law school we had one test per subject per semester. An entire semesters work (and your likelihood of continuing in law school) hinged on that two to three hour test. The tests usually involved a convoluted statement of facts and conflicts followed by a question or questions relating to your advice to a would-be client.

At the conclusion of each test law students would gather in the break room and “dead horse” the exam. One student routinely asked, “How many pages did you get (write) on that question?” I typed my exams and I generally wrote seven, eight or nine pages. He would then pronounce that he wrote thirty or more pages.

At first I was astounded and fearful that I had missed something. However, it soon became apparent that as each exam unfolded he would regurgitate, in summary form, virtually the entire body of law that we had studied during that semester. He had a prodigious memory and absorbed and returned data at the drop of the hat. Somewhere in those thirty plus pages was the appropriate law but it was crowded by irrelevant and extraneous, albeit correct, recitations of other elements of that body of law. It would be comparable to my wife asking me what I would like for dinner and me responding not only about the food but detailing the dinnerware, crystal, cutlery and linens and appropriate attire for the two of us. In the end, you were overwhelmed by more information than you needed but left wanting a relevant answer.

And that is Mr. Obama.

In March of 2011 I wrote a column entitled Calling Brilliance into Question. In that column I noted of Mr. Obama:

“. . . While at Columbia Obama like other students wrote a senior thesis. His was on nuclear disarmament of the West and he has refused to allow the release of it because it might appear to be naïve. Other articles he wrote during his college years on disarmament were simply regurgitation of far left orthodoxy on unilateral disarmament – hardly an indication of original or critical thinking.

“President Obama was the head of Harvard Law Review. The titles of president, leader or editor-in-chief are used interchangeably. Traditionally, the position has been in recognition of academic achievement – the top student at the end of the junior year becomes the editor-in-chief for the senior year. Since 1887 until 1970, inclusion on Harvard Law Review was based purely on academic achievement. After 1970 half of the members were chosen for academic performance and half were chosen by the students. Barack Obama was part of the latter category – chosen for popularity rather than achievement. The position of editor-in-chief is chosen by the faculty.

“The editor-in-chief of Harvard Law Review has two main responsibilities. The first is to “manage” the monthly production of the Review (assisted ably by a professional staff) and to publish the premier scholarly law review article for the academic year. No such article was published by Pres. Obama. In fact, the only article published by Obama during his years at Harvard Law School was in support of abortion on demand and can best be described as the normal screed of far left orthodoxy lacking any indication of original or critical thinking.

Absorption, retention and recitation of information are traits highly valued by academia. It might suggest why Mr. Obama fared well in college and gravitated toward teaching in Illinois. But such traits do not necessarily translate into problem solving. For instance, when I was in law school, one of my professors in contracts lectured us repeatedly about the importance of words. He went on to detail important cases in which the minutiae of language became the critical element in a decision. He emphasized the importance of the rules of contractual interpretation and particularly those relating to the consistency of language. Several years after I graduated, he was hired by Montana’s Constitutional Convention to provide drafting expertise. But the new constitution vetted by him is a remarkable work of vague phrases and inconsistent language that has given rise to forty years of litigation over what the framers intended. So much for academic brilliance translating into practical detail.

Critical thinking and problem solving are traits highly valued in private practice and the demonstrable lack of such skills might suggest why Mr. Obama was neither recruited nor offered positions in the country’s major law firms – offers that are uniformly made to the top students from Harvard. It might also suggest why Mr. Obama has steadfastly refused to submit his social initiatives to the Congress in the form of specific legislation.

Even with his singular legislative achievement – Obamacare – Mr. Obama announced his preference for a universal healthcare system. That is neither a new or unique concept but one that has been advocated by liberals for generations. But when it came to a specific proposal, Mr. Obama demurred and left the drafting to Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Harry Reid (D-NV). Mr. Obama has routinely pronounced that anyone, Republican and Democrat alike, should bring their proposals to implement his litany of liberal causes to him but has failed to provide his own specific proposals. Not for universal healthcare, not for immigration reform, not for tax reform, not for anything.

And that is precisely because Mr. Obama lacks the critical thinking skills necessary to craft a solution to a complex problem. So lacking is he in that area that he is distrustful of other’s solutions – particularly those by others he may perceive to be his opponents – because he cannot himself validate those solutions. He is stuck espousing causes and solutions that have been the hallmark of big government liberalism for ages and using “fairness” rather than facts to support them.

Mr. Obama is a stranger to most of the members of Congress. He steadfastly refuses to engage with them. It could be that his reticence is because Congress is the epitome of debate and compromise. The dealmakers of Congress are those who can deconstruct a problem into its solvable parts, prioritize those parts and find a solution within competing ideas. That is the nature of critical thinking necessary for leadership. Those are skills that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the incoming Senate Majority Leader, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have demonstrated in corralling the disparate ambitions of members of Congress into a relatively united front. And that is what is lacking in Mr. Obama.

And that is what foretells that there will not be solutions to the critical issues facing the country. And, in fact, it foretells that there will be few meetings between Mr. Obama and the Republican congressional leaders because Mr. Obama’s ego cannot accept being outclassed by the very people he disdains.

Mr. Obama cannot lead at this critical time for our nation because he lacks the fundamental skills and intellectual capabilities. He should resign.

Please Mr. Obama, leave – and take Joe with you.


  • Moe


  • Jack Lord God

    Obama will coast to the end of his term. Look to a flare out of massive vay kays for Moochelle in the final eighteen months. He knows that, even now, the press will never call him on much of anything but he also knows he wont be able to get jack through congress.

    It is for this reason he won’t try and do much. If he cared about his party he could set them up for 2016. Simply come up with a bunch of “free ice cream for everyone” legislation, wait for congress to focus the lens of reality on it, and then set up his parties nominee with a “they stole your ice cream” platform.

    He is in the perfect position to do so. He saddled us with the most expensive entitlement in a generation, Obamacare, and put it all on the credit card and the press still won’t call him on it. You think they would spoil the ice cream party? I doubt it.

    Obama won’t do this however. He is highly partisan, and does believe in the DNC’s interests over that of the country. That much is clear. However he also loves the limelight. Do you think he wants the historic nature of being the first black president upstaged by the first woman president? Not on your life. That’s why he put Hillary in, and then sent her around the world doing nothing, to make her look foolish, to encumber her with a resume which she herself assesses as “she passed the baton”. Obama does want the Democrats in charge, but at the same time, does not want any single democrat upstaging him.

    My bet is Obama poisons the well, Grants amnesty, which he sees as bringing in future democrat voters. That then makes any negotiation with Republicans impossible and likely also scuttles chances for a democrat in 2016. Win win as far as he is concerned.

    • DavidAppell

      >> Obama will coast to the end of his term. <<

      He just struck a historical plan to address climate change, and a few days earlier outlined his plan for net neutrality. Clearly he isn't slowing down one bit.

      • Jack Lord God

        Neither of those involved negotiation, which is what I mean by coast. Obama will continue in his autocratic mode, but negotiate, I doubt it.

        • DavidAppell

          The deal with China certainly required negotiations. On net neutrality, Obama is doing what leaders do — stating his view and have his workers execute them.

    • DavidAppell

      >> Obama won’t do this however. He is highly partisan, and does believe in the DNC’s interests over that of the country. That much is clear. <<

      And if you think ther GOP isn't exactly the same, you are blind. Republicans are so self-interested it's not even clear if they care at all about the nation, as long as corporations get everything they want.

      • Jack Lord God

        >And if you think ther GOP isn’t exactly the same, you are blind.

        Not blind, just realistic. Republicans have less of a tendency to do this. I would cite Reagan raising taxes in exchange for Democrat budget cuts that never came as example one, Bush 2’s raising taxes after read my lips as two, and Bush 3’s passage of Medicare D, something his base was utterly opposed to as three.

        >as long as corporations get everything they want.

        And you would explain Obama getting more money from Wall St. in the 2008 campaign followed by an increasing rate in income inequality under his term, GE paying literally nothing in taxes and the most gigantic corporate welfare program ever, known as green energy, how?

        David – You have been and always will be merely a spout for the discharge of democrat talking points. If you had thought about this for even two seconds you would have realized how you left yourself wide open on the corporation nonsense.

        • DavidAppell

          So you are blind. It’s completly obvious that Republicans are just as partisan Democrats, if not more.

          Even Wall Street, greedy as they are, realized backing John McCain would be a mistake. In 2012, Obama received significantly LESS contributions from the banking sector then did Romney:

          “Wall Street made a huge bet on Mitt Romney and lost. The financial services sector contributed $61 million to Mitt Romney’s campaign compared to giving only $18.7 million to Barack Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”
          – Forbes, 11/7/12

        • DavidAppell

          “Did GE get a $3.2 billion tax refund? No.

          “Did GE pay U.S. income taxes in 2010? Yes, it paid estimated taxes for 2010, and also made payments for previous years….

          “Will GE ultimately pay U.S. income taxes for 2010? After much to-ing and fro-ing — the company says it hasn’t completed its 2010 tax return — GE now says that it will pay tax.”

          – ProPublica, 4/4/11

        • DavidAppell

          “According to [GE spokesman] Williams, GE paid $1 billion in federal, state and local taxes in the U.S. for 2010. He declined to say how much of that was for federal income taxes, except to say that some of it was.

          “Williams also pointed to a company press release, from April 17, on taxes paid by GE. According to that release, GE paid an effective global tax rate of 7 percent in 2010, counting money paid “to the IRS and foreign counterparts” in other nations. That rate was particularly low, Williams said, because the company lost $32 billion in its financial business during the global financial crisis.

          “According to the company release, GE’s effective tax rate jumped to 29 percent in 2011. The company paid $2.9 billion in worldwide corporate income tax in 2011, and another $1 billion in other U.S. taxes that year, the release states.”

          –, 4/24/12

        • DavidAppell

          “…the most gigantic corporate welfare program ever, known as green energy, how?”

          Fossil fuel companies get far larger subsidies from the government, both directly and by being permitted to dump their waste into the atmosphere. That pollution costs the US at least $120 B/yr, according to a 2010 report by the National Academy of Sciences.

          * $4.86 billion in tax breaks and subsidies the oil and gas industry has been receiving every year on average in today’s dollars since 1918:
          – see the chart on page 29 in this investment report by DBL Investors

          * the oil and gas industry is exempt from key provisions of seven major environmental laws that protect air and water quality:

        • DavidAppell

          “U.S. Expects $5 Billion From Program That Funded Solyndra,” Bloomberg News, 11/12/14

  • guest

    The GOP should not negotiate with Obama. There is a long standing precedent that we do not negotiate with terrorists.

    • DavidAppell

      Remind me again — who brought torture back as a method of interrogation, in violation of the Geneva Convention?

      • Jack Lord God

        Someone remind David about Obamas kill list.

  • Eric Blair

    There is a flip side to this: will the Republicans be willing to negotiate with President Obama and the Democrats (expect the rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth if the Democrats do the same thing in the Senate that the Republicans did, and simply threaten to filibuster nearly everything). Or, are the Republicans simply going to pass legislation that they know Obama will veto with an eye towards 2016? With the tail wagging the dog, I expect the Republicans to throw up a lot of symbolic legislation.

    • guest

      Speaking of throw up, Eric Blair-Carter-tharsis, there you go again.

  • Eric Blair

    “Absorption, retention and recitation of information are traits highly valued by academia.”


    “Critical thinking and problem solving are traits highly valued in private practice…

    Wow.. maybe Larry just went to a really bad school? My university certainly did not highly value the traits that Larry is talking about for academia, and certainly placed a heavy emphasis on critical thinking and synthesis.

    I think for the average hourly wage employee, critical thinking and problem solving are not appreciated, and loyalty and ability to follow orders are.

  • Dave Francis


    On a long term basis by building real double
    layer fencing at the US/Mexican border, billions of dollars will be saved for
    the US Taxpayer. The Rep. Duncan Hunter concept started in San Diego, California with a success rate
    of 90 percent to this day. The concept of a two facing fences with all weather
    tracks between with access ports for the US Border agents vehicles, is a
    perfect deterrent. Whatever the funding needed should be appropriated, as the
    flood of illegal aliens will be drawn to a close.

    The costs would be phenomenal, as those who
    fall upon the public pocket would come to end. Recruitment of thousands of more
    border agents, or even a job for returning military troops would guarantee and
    end to the endless streams of foreign national that now are smuggled in. With
    the technology that’s available, purportedly inaccessible places could be
    patrolled by electronic drone or highest level of sensor

    A Report from the Heritage Foundation States:

    The cost of an illegal alien receiving
    amnesty from Obama is not a short term cost. In fact it has been worked out
    that over 50 years the cost is more than $9 TRILLION for the five million
    Barack is legalizing. Barack really wants to bankrupt our nation. Of course the
    five million illegal aliens he makes “legal” will also challenge five million
    honest Americans, Hispanics, blacks, men, women and youth for available low pay

    “The average illegal immigrant is 34 years
    old. If he receives amnesty, he will receive government benefits for 50 years.
    Some amnesty proposals suggest restricting benefit access for the first 13
    years after amnesty, but that limit would have little impact on long-term

    Over the course of a lifetime, 11.5 million
    illegal immigrants granted amnesty would receive $9.4 trillion in government
    benefits after paying just $3.1 trillion in taxes.”

    Obamacare is killing health care, jobs and
    the economy (the real economy, not the fantasy press releases from the White
    House) and now for the next two generations the costs of violating the law by
    the President is going to cost our children, grandchildren and great
    grandchildren. It will be a Shame on American Taxpayers for allowing this to
    happen to our country.

    Our nation is under siege. This month we need
    thousands, if not millions of people, everyone we know, to step up and show
    their support for the moderate Conservative Tea Party. If we don’t act now,
    President Obama is going to grant amnesty to 5 million illegal aliens—5 times
    as many as when Obama freed the dreamers from deportation. Among those millions
    of illegal aliens are scores of convicted criminals and felons—people of the
    worst kind including murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and drug lords. He already
    released 35.000 criminal aliens who will be a threat on our streets and DUI on
    our highways. How can you possibly hope to unite a nation, when a good part of
    the population refuses to learn English?

    You and I both recognize that if this comes to
    pass, the floodgates to economic, social and financial disaster will be thrown
    wide open. Obama can tout amnesty as some great philanthropic effort but we
    Patriots see behind the veil of lies and deceit.

    Obama says all of this is beyond our control. People,
    that’s simply not true. We can stop it. If this President would enforce the
    current laws and provide the proper support at the borders. We’re being
    overrun, and Obama’s solution is to hold events at the White House
    “honoring illegal aliens who came to this country.” He is REWARDING

    If President Obama implements a unilateral
    order, to bypass Congress and gives a free pass and a universal amnesty, all
    hell could break loose. It will be a national emergency and my belief is what
    that hard-core Socialist in the White House? It could lead to a ‘Civil War” of
    sorts, which would be hard to stop. Obama and his
    administration will see to it that illegal aliens will receive first priority
    for jobs if amnesty becomes law, getting the best health care, and enjoy a free
    education—while we break our backs just to feed our families and pay the rising
    bills for those who jump the border.

    Check this site that
    has the phone Numbers and Mailing Addresses of Members of Congress
    contact them at: http://www.contactingthecongress to demand an end to illegal immigration, the
    dismantling of our laws, sovereignty, citizen rights and even our of abolition
    of our military top brass, which is protection against our enemies foreign an
    domestic. Illegal Immigration is rapidly becoming the top priority for
    Americans, because they see its impact on the bleak economy and lost jobs. TELL THESE SPINELESS DEMS
    & CONSERVATIVES THERE OUT IN 2016, IF THIS MINDLESS AMNESTY PASSES. This is the number for the central switchboard
    for every member of Congress to address your opposition at 800-224-3121.

  • DavidAppell

    That’s funny, Larry Huss judging someone else’s critical thinking skills and finding them deficient. How would he know.

    • Myke

      By reading your replies, David.

      • Jack Lord God

        Well, that and the fact that Larry actually has been employed.

    • Jack Lord God

      BTW David – Welcome back. Missed your bizzaro world perspective.

      • DavidAppell

        Rupert, how is your Daddy’s porn business going?

        • .

          Don’t scat under the Appell tree, it might truffle his trousseau and inhibit his marketability..

  • Ron Swaren

    ” Barack Obama was part of the latter category – chosen for popularity rather than achievement.”

    Read: ex-Choom Ganger makes big splash with fellow Harvard students.

    The rest is history.