Dick Polman has a good column about why liberals are dreaming when they ask Obama to seize his “LBJ moment.” Polman hits all the differences between now and then, but the most fundamental is really this: Obama doesn’t have LBJ’s legislative experience or the Washington alliances built up over a period of decades. He has never cobbled together majorities, bipartisan or otherwise, to pass controversial legislation.
The only real leverage Obama has over Democrats on Capitol Hill is the fact that he is popular and many of them are not. Defying Obama on an issue of importance to liberals carries some cost with the Democratic base. There is also the argument that these Democrats, especially the ones from red and purple states, will benefit politically from Obama’s success. But popularity can be a temporary thing and many of these Democrats represent places where Obama was at less than 50 percent — in some cases, as low as 30-odd percent — at the peak of his popularity.
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