Congress’s reaction to the way President Obama brokered the deal to release Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl certainly is a serious matter.
But is it worth a loss of sleep in the residential quarters of the White House? I don’t think so.
The anger is a result of what I believe has been a nearly six-year estrangement between the White House and Capitol Hill. It’s been brought on by both sides.
Republicans who run the House of Representatives dislike Barack Obama for a lengthy list of reasons. Most of it is because of policy reasons. Some of it, though, seems to go beyond what most of us considerable to be reasonable. A handful of GOP lawmakers have gone to extreme lengths to insult the president, question his integrity, his qualifications for office, you name it.
Shall we recall, also, that the leading Senate Republican declared during Barack Obama’s first year in office that his “No. 1 goal is to make Obama a one-term president”? Mitch McConnell failed in that quest, as the president won re-election.
OK, there’s where Capitol Hill is to blame.
President Obama did not bother to learn the fine art of legislating during his brief time in the Senate. Therefore, he entered the White House believing in his way only. He hasn’t developed the kind of personal relationships presidents need when the chips are down.
As some of my veteran Texas political observer friends have reminded me over the years, Barack Obama needs a healthy dose of Lyndon Johnson. LBJ was a product of the Senate. He knew how to legislate. He knew how to cajole, persuade, threaten, compromise, surrender — all at the same time. He took those skills to the White House when he became president on Nov. 22, 1963.
Had the current president developed better relationships with Congress, he wouldn’t find himself being pounded incessantly now over this latest matter — the alleged failure to consult fully with Congress before agreeing to the release of the bad guys from Gitmo in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom.
Whose fault is all this?
From my perspective — and recognizing my own bias — I would have to lay the bulk of the blame here on Congress. The leadership there has been bereft of ideas of their own. They’ve been intent on undoing the president’s agenda at every possible turn. From health care, to environmental policy and lately — and this one just slays me — to rolling back the first lady’s guidelines on serving healthy lunches to our school children attending public schools, congressional Republicans have dug in their heels.
None of that excuses the president’s refusal to build better relationships, but in my mind it suggests that Barack Obama has grown tired of fighting over every single issue that needs to be resolved.
Bergdahl’s release needed to occur. It came after some tough decision-making at the White House. It has enraged members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
Should we take their outrage seriously? Sure. But it doesn’t mean that Planet Earth will spin off its axis if they don’t get their way in this latest public quarrel.