Historian says Obama should work harder to connect with GOP

Nov. 25, 2012 at 7:47 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose "Team of Rivals" is the basis for the film "Lincoln," says President Obama must try harder to connect with Republicans.

"I think the most important lesson that the ["Lincoln"] movie illustrates by getting the passage of the 13th Amendment through a really fractious Congress, is you do everything you can, every means within your control," Goodwin said Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

Goodwin said past presidents, such as President Lyndon Johnson, were much better than Obama at using the White House as a political asset.

"If LBJ were there now trying to get [off] the fiscal cliff, they would be sleeping in the White House. [U.S. Sen. Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] would be in one room and [Speaker of the House John] Boehner [R-Ohio] would be in another, and LBJ would be parading around in his robe," she said. "But if they remain obstructionist, then Teddy Roosevelt is another lesson for them, because he knew that he couldn't get his conservative Republican Party just by being nice to them, by offering them things. He needed to mobilize pressure from the outside ... ."

"And that's where I think Obama has to also play an outside game ... . Maybe he should take a train trip around the country the same way that Teddy Roosevelt did ... ."

Goodwin said the political culture in Washington has changed drastically.

"Even in LBJ's time, Republicans and Democrats stayed there on the weekends," she said. "They used to be able to play poker together. They'd play golf together. So when [Sen. Everett] Dirksen [R-Ill.] was needed by LBJ [a Texas Democrat] for the Civil Rights Act, they had a friendship. Also these guys had been in World War II, a lot of them, together. They'd been in the military. Now you have fewer people that have been in the military. You've got the television that honors people who are extremists on either side.

"So the political culture has to change somehow. Maybe we do need to just put them all together in a room and not let them out."

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