Paul Ryan was on TV this morning moaning about President Obama’s plan to make speeches here and there in the coming days in support of the agenda he outlined in last night’s State of the Union Address.
[H]e’s taking to the road for the next few days in basically what I would call “campaign mode.” He seems to always stay in a campaign mode, where he treats people of the other party as the enemy, not as partners. If he really wanted to get things done and govern, he would come here and work with us, instead of campaigning all around the country.
What nonsense! How did a guy this politically naive ever rise to a position of prominence in his party?
Presidents are always campaigning. Most of their public appearances and public utterances amount to campaigning for their administrations’ policies or their own electoral fortunes or those of their political party.
Chief executives of the United States don’t just hunker down in their offices, formulating policies and holding meetings. There’s a certain amount of that kind of thing, to be sure, but there also are speeches and news conferences and photo ops and trips to the hinterlands to meet and greet regular folks. All of these are efforts to curry public favor for certain political agendas and to ingratiate oneself with the electorate.
There’s a name for that kind of stuff. It’s called “politics.” And that’s what presidents do. They practice politics. They’re politicians. Some of them may also be great statesmen, but fundamentally, all of them are politicians.
Abraham Lincoln, for one, had a keen understanding of the importance of public opinion and was a master at swaying it to his advantage — at campaigning, as it were.
As Lincoln once put it: “He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”
When a president “molds public sentiment,” he is campaigning.
Paul Ryan and the other Republicans who are always blubbering about Obama’s penchant for campaigning in support of his agenda should grow up. It’s politics, boys and girls. It’s the way things work.