Former Senator John Breaux Diagnoses Partisan Illness

John Breaux FW

Former Senator John Breaux said he felt that President Obama’s threat in the State of the Union speech that if Congress was going to be bogged down in partisan wrangling he would use the executive power of the White House to get what he wanted accomplished could have the effect of making everyone in Congress angrier and not be helpful.

The Louisiana centrist Democrat, now working in the powerful Patton Boggs Law firm in Washington, told Chuck Conconi, the host of Focus Washington that President Obama was probably correct in believing that his only recourse was to use Executive Orders because he “can’t expect a lot of bipartisan support.” He said the middle has grown smaller in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate, especially with the loss of conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs and the growing numbers of strongly conservative Tea Party members.

Breaux, who served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to 2005, said one of the major problems working against more political compromises is the lack of personal relationships between the members. Members of Congress are not around as much as they once were, he explained. They are usually in town Tuesdays through Thursdays and spend the long weekends campaigning in the home Districts.

“Gerrymandering,” he said, “has created safe districts, so they don’t have to compromise.” He said it is unfortunate that many members now do not move their families to Washington. When he came to the senate, Breaux said there were more families here. “I had Democrats and Republicans in the same neighborhood. We were friends. It makes it very difficult to stab someone in the head if you had dinner with him on the night before.”

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