Friday, September 30, 2011

How to tell how decisive a leader any American president is

American presidents are, legally, America's COO (Chief Operating Officer). That is, someone empowered with carrying out the laws--particularly on spending--enacted by Congress. He can't even put legislation in front of Congress--a Congressman has to do that. He can veto legislation, but it can be overcome by a supemajority of Congressmen.

And the rules of Congress are designed currently so that a minority of the Senate can block legislation and nominations, and even a majority of Senators could easily represent a minority of Americans.

Thus the Republicans' 109th Congress (2005-2007) had a Senate Republican majority of 55%, yet it represented only around 48% of Americans--a minority majority, due to the Republicans' domination of the more backward, small, rural states.

So it's hard to judge the leadership of an American president by his domestic accomplishments, while his more unfettered international scope shows us what he could do domestically under a parliamentary system--the form of government of all the countries with a AAA rating from all three American economic rating agencies.

Even when a president has majorities in both houses of Congress, he can still be hamstrung by an obstructionist minority in the Senate--something that doesn't happen in countries with parliamentary systems, where the head of government is by definition the head of whatever party dominates the legislature, and our quaint rules don't apply. There they need 51% of the votes. Here we need at least 61%--nearly impossible to achieve in a country as evenly divided as we are, and only approachable when one party's gross malfeasance comes to light and is rejected.

And in foreign policy President Obama has been surehanded and decisive--and a coalition-builder instead of a cowboy. The killing of Al-Aliki in Yemen today is just the latest example.

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