Presidential power: Levers and pulleys

Emma Bull once said coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys.  In the wake of the president's visit abroad, during which we have seen numerous images of pomp and pageantry, three remarkable developments have taken place, away from the spotlight.

On Tuesday, the Senate majority leader – a member of the president's own party – was quoted as saying, "I don't know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment" when asked about legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, which has passed the House of Representatives and now moved to the Senate.  It would seem that this is a clear message to the president that something he very much wants might be in jeopardy.

Shortly after, the president's secretary of state, when asked about the Paris Climate Accord, told reporters aboard Air Force One, "The president indicated we're still thinking about that, that he hasn't made a final decision. He, I think ... would be taking up for a decision when we return from this trip."  Since the Senate majority leader is from one of the states that depends on the continued burning of coal, oil, and gas (a practice the Accord would seek to restrict), it seems that this is a clear message to the Senate majority leader that something he very much wants might be in jeopardy.

And just this morning, it was announced that the Senate majority leader has joined 21 other senators – all in his own party - urging the president to follow through on his campaign pledge to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Coincidence?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps this simply a case of the use of levers and pulleys we can't see?

Notice that I have not used any names.  This is because the names do not matter.  This could be any president, any Senate majority leader, or any secretary.  Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, it does not matter.  This is not about party – this is about strategy and tactics.  What tactics must I employ to achieve the objective I seek?  The names may change, but the principles do not.  If you are going to war – and politics is nothing more that warfare concealed – then you should remember the words of an ancient Chinese philosopher: victorious warriors win first, and then go to war.

We do not know how this will all play out.  There may be other levers and pulleys yet to come.  But one thing seems clear: our current president not only understands this, but is adept at practicing it as well.

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