When John Dickerson wrote that President Obama should crush Republicans, I’m betting he didn’t expect the firestorm he’s getting. I’m betting that’s why he wrote this defensive-sounding article. First, here’s what Dickerson wrote in his first Slate article:
Washington’s partisan rancor, the size of the problems facing government, and the limited amount of time before Obama is a lame duck all point to a single conclusion: The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat.
This afternoon, he published this:
On the eve of the president’s inauguration, I wrote a piece about what President Obama needs to do to be a transformational rather than caretaker president. I was using a very specific definition of transformational presidencies based on my reading of a theory of political science and the president’s own words about transformational presidencies from the 2008 campaign. It was also based on these givens: the president is ambitious, has picked politically controversial goals, has little time to operate before he is dubbed a lame-duck president, and has written off working with Republicans. “Bloodier-minded when it comes to beating Republicans,” is how Jodi Kantor put it in the New York Times. Given these facts, there is only one logical conclusion for a president who wants to transform American politics: he must take on Republicans–aggressively.
It’s worth noting that Mr. Dickerson is CBS’s chief political correspondent. It’s also worth noting that Mr. Dickerson didn’t ask the right questions or give responsible advice to President.
It’s shameful that a network political director/correspondent would think only about gaining a political advantage instead of doing what’s right for America. It’s apparent that Mr. Dickerson hasn’t figured it out that truly transformative presidents make life better for the people they serve.
Crushing political opponents while pursuing a failed policy agenda might get an administration through a fight but that isn’t what transformative presidents do. That’s why history will record President Obama’s administration as a failure, especially economically.
At this point, the only thing that will make President Obama an historical figure is his being the first black president. Sadly, his signature political accomplishment has hurt the American economy while leading to many people losing hope.
That’s the definition of a failure. Mr. Dickerson would be well advised to note that failures aren’t transformative figures.