"We need a calm, reflective president who does not think the other party is driven by bad motives. … He brings people together to find a consensus and to find solutions to our problems. He is a different kind of political leader. He is a peacemaker," I wrote.
Now President Barack Obama has been re-elected. He accomplished much in his first term but was not able to move forward on many key issues. This election was even closer than in 2008. The only mandate from this vote is that people want leadership and compromise. They want to end the bitter arguments between Democrats and Republicans. I know Obama can do this because he still believes, as he said in his famous 2004 speech, in "one America," not blue or red states.
I have two suggestions for the president.
First, call House Speaker John Boehner to resume negotiations on the grand bargain you came so close to completing on the budget, deficit, tax policy and spending cuts. After you and the speaker reach agreement — you will because you both know how desperately we need it — call in the Democratic congressional leaders and tell — not ask — them to ratify that agreement.
Tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that there will be no further negotiations, that a grand bargain has been reached, and that if they do not like it, you, like President Lyndon Johnson, will go to every Democrat in Congress to get them to overrule their Democratic leaders. You can get this done if you — not Reid and Pelosi — take the lead. The failure to reach agreement earlier this year was as much the fault of the Democratic leadership as it was the Republicans. Do not allow your party's congressional leaders to again stand in the way of progress.
Second, recruit to your administration devoted and energetic men and women who are Republicans and independents, as well as Democrats. You need people who appreciate that our country is evenly divided. Olympia Snowe, Richard Lugar, John Danforth and Christine Todd Whitman are Republicans who understand this. How about Erskine Bowles as secretary of the Treasury? Alan Simpson as a senior adviser in the White House?
Mr. President, you now have the gift of a term limit: You are not allowed to run for re-election. Never again will you hear Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
Your great gift is bringing people together. I've seen you do it masterfully. Now is the time to use your great gifts for all of us. On election night, you wisely quoted from your 2004 speech about no more blue states and red states. Mr. President, you are free at last.
Newton N. Minow, a Chicago lawyer, was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1961 to 1963.