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When the Bully Pulpit Won't Work on Congress When the Bully Pulpit Won't Work on Congress

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Leadership

When the Bully Pulpit Won't Work on Congress

If Congress and President Obama want to hammer out a grand bargain over fiscal issues, it might be time to retire the Bully Pulpit. Or at least put it in storage for a bit.

That's the upshot from Sophie Quinton's look at the history of the presidential megaphone. She explains what that means. 

The bully pulpit can work when a president takes advantage of a groundswell of public support that already exists. But when a president takes a high-profile stance on a controversial issue, it makes it harder for the opposing party to support his plan.

In other words, the more a president clamors for or against a political position, the more difficult it becomes for the opposition to sign off. 

One recent example that illustrates how the bully pulpit can work, however, happened last December when President Obama campaigned for an extension of the payroll-tax cut that House Republicans opposed. House Speaker John Boehner eventually agreed to a deal for a short-term extension after his Senate counterpart, Mitch McConnell, broke with GOP leaders in the House. "Enough is enough," the president said at the time.

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