The criteria for an effective presidency has always been a somewhat nebulous standard within the minds of the mainstream media. Sometimes, it's being perceived as youthful and glamorous; sometimes, it's the perception of gravitas and a studied folksiness that reassures Americans. George W. Bush counted on Americans feeling that the trust fund baby with an Ivy League education and indifferent corporate success would seem like someone you could have a beer with.
But the criteria for Barack Obama's presidency seems to have reached ridiculous proportions. Ignoring for a moment the eagerness of host Candy Crowley to find things wrong with Obama's second term, West Virginia's junior senator, Joe Manchin, suggests that maybe the president could be friendlier if he wanted to get things done:
"It makes it more difficult," Manchin said. "It's hard to say no to a friend. When you build that relationship and that friendship, you're looking for ways to try to work things out and find a compromise. That friendship means an awful lot. When you don't build those personal relationships, it's pretty easy for a person to say, 'Well, let me think about it.'"
Look, I'll grant that Obama's personal style is perhaps more reserved and hands-off. But come on, now we need him to be friendly to Congress, which has done nothing but obstruct his agenda, gin up false controversies and accusations and find reasons to not actually get anything accomplished? It's not enough that he intentionally suggests legislation that incorporates bipartisan ideas (or, more often than not, Republican-originated ideas) in the (rather naive) hope that by carving that centrist path, he can pick up bipartisan support.
Is Manchin suggesting that instead of operating in the best interests of their constituents and the country, congresspeople now require the President to be their BFF and sweet talk them? Can you name another president that this has been required of?