SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 22, 2013

Benton: Gravel the Democrat

In a letter to potential voters this week, Peabody state representative candidate Dave Gravel explains his decision to run as an independent in the April 2 special election.

“Although I am a lifelong Democrat,” he states, “I am required by law to run as an independent ... because while serving on our nonpartisan City Council I decided to become an unenrolled voter to avoid party divisiveness on local issues. When this unexpected election was announced, it was too late to change that. If elected, I will be returning to my Democratic designation.”

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“Lincoln” is the most nominated film in the Academy Awards ceremony that will air Sunday. And President Barack Obama might find it useful to review this account of how the Great Emancipator managed to coax a reluctant Congress into approving the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.

Unfortunately, in contrast to Abraham Lincoln, this president seems to regard stagecraft rather than statesmanship as the best method of cajoling skeptical Republicans to do the right thing regarding the budget and deficit. The latest example was this week’s press conference at which Obama surrounded himself with firefighters and other uniformed first responders to make the point that the failure to reach a deal on the sequestration of federal funds by March 1 could imperil public safety.

This practice of exploiting the alleged victims of congressional inaction, whether by putting them on risers behind the president or giving them prime seats at the State of the Union address, is becoming wearisome. Worse, it isn’t working.

It’s time for Obama to gather up the carrots and sticks the office of president provides and do some hard, face-to-face bargaining with the GOP’s chieftains. After all, he was elected to be a leader, not a propagandist.

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Peabody city councilors finally found a mayor willing to accept a pay raise — which finally gave them a reason to boost their own salaries.

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