Political Science 101

by Patrick Appel

John Sides applauds various corners of the blogosphere for making a very basic point:

Of course Obama has an agenda with regard to health care, climate change, etc. And of course legislative success or failure has implications for his presidency. But Yglesias and others have rightly pounded away at the notion that policymaking should somehow be framed around the president’s goals, actions, and standing. This frame gets the policymaking process wrong, and it arguably hurts our understanding of the policies themselves, whose details are subordinated to armchair quarterbacking about the president’s decisions or lack thereof.

Sides sketches out a good general rule, I made the same argument about the president myself this week, but hill staffers are complaining that there were moderate congressmen in the House who would have voted for the bill if the President had promised to visit their districts for fundraising purposes or if the White House had gotten pork for their districts included in the bill. As it is, the House is going into the final stretch with only a couple vote margin. Just because the President isn't all-powerful doesn't mean he isn't a factor.