President Barack H. Eisenhower?

Michael Barone has written a great article about who he considers President-elect Obama's key political model of post-partisanship: President Dwight D. Eisenhower. One of the raps on DDE is his self-imposed distance from Republicans in the 1950s. He's not credited with much party building or coattails (Republicans lost Congress in 1954). Moreover, he was thought to have little regard for Vice President Nixon (Ike on Nixon's responsibilities: "Give me a week and I might think of something." Ike didn't endorse Nixon until late in the 1960 election). President Eisenhower is arguably the closest thing to a non-partisan President since WWII.

President-elect Obama blew off John Kerry (to the great joy of Republicans and, even if they won't admit it, many Democrats) and has assembled an official inner circle from those with largely centrist bona fides (Volcker, Jones, Gates, Summers). Only in time will we learn how he governs and my suspicion is that he'll use moderate and center-right rhetoric to mask a liberal agenda. Turnabout is fair play, of course. George W. Bush used moderate language (compassionate conservatism) to sell a huge expansion of federal spending.

But if BHO's public persona contrasts the hyperpartisanship generated by the permanent campaigns waged by the Clinton and Bush II White Houses, he will have done the country a great service. I don't think the Romper Room we call Congress can or will follow his lead but I commend him for the effort.

No comments: