The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jon-Christopher Bua Headshot

Obama's Lessons on Miracles From Mandela and Lincoln

Posted: Updated:

President Obama has been navigating some very rough waters this year with a more than rocky rollout of his key legislative accomplishment - Obamacare - and the constant threats of government shutdowns over the budget and the debt ceiling.

It seems that Obama could learn something from the two great leaders Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln when it comes to dealing with your enemies and winning them over to become allies.

Although the Republicans in Congress have tried to thwart almost every effort put forth by the President up to now, Obama has not found a successful and winning way to deal with them.

Perhaps his hero "Madiba" has a message in his life story for his young protégé Barack.

Instead of seeking revenge over his prosecutors and jailers, Mandela always took the high road finding a way to charm and disarm his enemies.

Mandela did not waste precious time demonizing his tormentors once he was released from twenty-seven years in prison.

Instead, he engaged with former President F. W. de Klerk to move South Africa forward together.

Mandela and de Klerk moved South Africa from apartheid to a multi-racial democracy - truly a miracle!

Our sixteenth President Abraham Lincoln also joined forces with his "tormentors" creating a "team of rivals" by bringing his most adamant critics into his government and finding ways to make his desired legislative outcomes personally appealing to them - truly a miracle!

Lincoln used his personal persuasion, power and charm to eliminate years of slavery and heal a divided nation.

Up to now Obama has taken a somewhat hands off approach to Congressional legislation when he believed his personal involvement might negatively impact a deal.

He has tried to ignore Congress - blaming the Republicans for gridlock - taking his case, campaign style, directly to the American people encouraging them to pressure Congress on his behalf.

This has done very little to break gridlock or to make friends with Congress.

This so-called "disengagement" may have had the unintended consequences of alienating both the Democratic and Republican leadership who must put their reputation on the line with every vote they cast.

As the year draws toward an end it will be time for the President to regroup and map out his strategy for the remainder of his term in office.

He may already be doing this.

Although the President clearly has the oratory skills to use the Bully Pulpit and lots of personal charm, it seems he has not used these skills to the fullest to win over his opposition.

This is not just about lunches, dinners and golf trips with the leadership in the opposition, it is about understanding their views and crafting a way to reach a compromise that can be a win-win for both sides.

This may be the reason that he has reached out to John Podesta, a seasoned former Bill Clinton political hand, to join his inner circle and help right the ship of state.

Podesta was Clinton's chief of staff during last three years of that administration and handled a broad portfolio including Congressional relations.

President Obama has three more years to serve his country and to leave his mark on history.

He will already hold a unique place as the first black president in the history of this nation but that is not the only accomplishment he wants to define his tenure in the Oval Office.

Obama passed healthcare reform where others before him failed.

He used his political capital to do this and now he needs to make it work successfully and prove that government can solve problems and not just create them.

This will require hiring a team of seasoned government managers who know how to make government work.

In recent days House Speaker John Boehner may have signaled that he is taking a new approach and is open to trying again.

The budget deal - although a small bargain as opposed to a grand bargain has shown there may be a glimmer of hope and a path forward.

Boehner. with House Budget Chair Representative Paul Ryan's help, may have shown he is willing to lead and stand up to the Tea Party.

The House of Representatives passed the Paul Ryan-Patty Murray compromise Budget Bill which will provide stability and prevent two potential government shutdowns over funding the day to day operations of the Federal Government.

The Senate is expected to pass their version of this bill this week before they leave for their holiday recess.

This is good news for both the US economy and world financial markets.

Representative Ryan and Senator Murray met many times and worked hard to understand each other's points of no compromise - as well as their common ground.

It could be that "the adults" in Congress are taking back control.

With historically low approval ratings some Members of Congress may be realizing that the American people are not happy with gridlock and dysfunction - so they are actually trying to get something done.

Unfortunately, this deal does not address the need to vote to raise the debt ceiling which is scheduled to occur in early February just after the President's State of the Union Address on 28 January.

On his upcoming family vacation in Hawaii, the President will have time to reflect, recharge and re-examine his approach.

When President Obama was first elected in 2008, he promised he would come to Washington and "CHANGE" the tone and the way that business is done here.

It might be worthwhile for the President to create his own "team of rivals" from the key Congressional players in both parties to actually get some important things done - economic growth, jobs and immigration reform.

Normally nothing would get done on the eve of the Mid-Term Elections.

However, this time it could be different.

Incumbents really need to show the American people that they can compromise and do their jobs or they could all be looking for a brand new ones.

If the President takes a different, somewhat less political tact he might just have some success in changing the tone in Washington to get something done for the American people.

If he succeeds it will be - truly another miracle!

Around the Web

Barack Obama Remembers Nelson Mandela, His Legacy (VIDEO ...

Nelson Mandela memorial: David Cameron and Barack Obama in ...

Nelson Mandela memorial: 'Bogus' sign language interpreter made ...

Nelson Mandela funeral: no Bill Clinton, empty seats and Prince of Wales ...

Barack Obama lights up damp Nelson Mandela memorial