The View From 1776

Presidential Persuasion

Obama’s continual speechifying contrasts unfavorably with the style of Thomas Jefferson, who is claimed by the Democrat/Socialist Party as its founder.

Obama has spent more time (and taxpayers’ money) traveling about the country making campaign-style, fund-raising speeches during his four-plus years in office than any other president in history.

Only on a few occasions has he deigned to invite senior Republican legislators to meetings at the White House.  When Republicans expressed objections to some of the president’s policies, he curtly dismissed their concerns by declaring, “I won.”

When his recent speechifying tour failed to arouse public opinion in support of his proposed expansion of gun control, the president bitterly chastised Democrat/Socialists and Republicans alike in a press conference speech.

Thomas Jefferson, who famously observed that the best government is the one that governs the least (in contrast to liberal-progressive collectivism), approached matters very differently.

Jon Meacham, in his Pulitzer Prize wining biography, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, wrote:

“From his time spent in the Confederation Congress and presiding over the Senate for four years as vice president, Jefferson appreciated how to handle lawmakers…a president’s attentions meant the world to politicians and to ordinary people alike.  For all his low-key republican symbolism, Jefferson understood that access to the president himself could make all the difference in statecraft - hence his dinners with lawmakers and his willingness to receive callers…

“The president had to be able to trust lawmakers with insights and opinions that he might not offer to a broader audience, creating a sense of intimacy and common purpose.  Making speeches at other politicians - or appearing to be only making speeches at them - was not the best way to enlist their allegiance or their aid, nor to govern well.”