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Think Our Losing Streak Is Done

January 24, 2009

It’s a been a good week.

On Tuesday, my officemates and I gathered in our company’s boardroom to watch Obama take the oath of office. As you may know, Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama stumbled a bit over the oath, prompting a “re-do” (just to be on the constitutional safe side) of the oath on Wednesday.

I think, though, that Barack’s reaction to the stumble on the part of Justice Roberts was telling. What did Obama do, at a mistake made during one of the most important points in his life thus far? He chuckled. Now that’s the temperment I want in office.

Another exchange this week between Barack and Republican lawmakers, that I just read about in a New York Times story, is also telling:

Yet in a polite but pointed exchange with the No. 2 House Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, Mr. Obama took note of the parties’ fundamental differences on tax policy toward low-wage workers, and insisted that his view would prevail.

At issue is Mr. Obama’s proposal that his tax breaks for low- and middle-income workers, including his centerpiece “Making Work Pay” tax credit, be refundable — that is, that the benefits also go to workers who earn too little to pay income taxes but who pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Republicans generally oppose giving such refunds to people who pay no income taxes.

“We just have a difference here, and I’m president,” Mr. Obama said to Mr. Cantor, according to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who was at the meeting. Mr. Emanuel said that Mr. Obama was being lighthearted and that lawmakers of both parties had laughed.

Mr. Cantor, in an interview later, had a similar recollection. He said the president had told him, “You’re correct, there’s a philosophical difference, but I won, so we’re going to prevail on that.”

“He was very straightforward,” Mr. Cantor added. “There was no disrespect, but it was very matter-of-fact.”

I like that. It demonstrates Obama’s reasonableness and good humor—something that’s been sorely missing from our past eight years of government. Here’s to keeping up this tone.

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