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The Insiders
Posted at 07:32 AM ET, 10/25/2012

Obama couldn't lead Washington to a grand bargain if he wanted to

Americans like a bargain. Therefore, what could be better than a "grand" bargain? So in the 11th hour of the presidential campaign, the president says it is time for a grand bargain to tame the national debt.

If President Obama gets reelected he won't be able to get a grand anything in Washington. Members of Congress — in both parties — don't like, don't trust or don't know President Obama. His congressional outreach has been bad to nonexistent.  

And if he is reelected, he will be the weakest president ever. But perhaps the president's ego and his complete lack of understanding of how to lead Washington and make it work prevent him from seeing what is obvious.

After the elections the House will be under strong GOP control, the Senate will be more closely divided and will include more committed conservatives than ever, and the president has only about 18 months in which to do anything before he becomes a very lame duck, as aspirants from both parties begin running for president in 2016.

The race for the White House in 2016 will begin around November 2013 and be in full swing the following spring as the candidates use the 2014 midterms to build their organizations. The president will be mostly ignored after the 2014 midterm elections. All this makes for a reality in Washington that will be very different from what the president is suggesting.

Part of the reason the president wanted his suck-up phone call with the Des Moines Register (expect its endorsement of Obama soon) to be kept secret is because he knows any claims he might make about the big things he will do if reelected will be greeted with howls of laughter from experienced Washington hands. This president hasn't even been able to pass a U.S. budget in three years! He was very powerful after his election in 2008, but he has squandered that power since then. He peaked on Inauguration Day in 2009.   

Note to the president: The only group that will be able to pass anything in Washington next year will be House Republicans. What is your plan — to beg a few Senate Democrats to vote in favor of what the House of Representatives passes? This will be your only role if you want anything to become law. No one believes you control any Senate Democratic votes. Not one of them voted for your last federal budget. If you don't work with and listen to House Republicans, nothing will reach your desk for signature. Period. What will you bring to the table?  No one will come to your summits, a la health care in 2009. And no one will believe you can hurt them politically if they ignore you.  

So the last-minute campaign revelation that the president will finally solve our big problems soon after he is reelected is desperate, borders on silly and underscores the president's belief that he can fool most of the people one more time.

By  |  07:32 AM ET, 10/25/2012

 
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