The next U.S. president needs to be a strong leader with the ability to bring both sides of the congressional aisle together to help balance the nation's budget and revitalize the economy, Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told IMCA 2012 attendees today.
Goodwin gave that response when asked what kind of person would make a successful president over the next four years. "Whoever gets elected president, the question is, can he wield control over Congress to cooperate to solve these problems?'' said Goodwin today as keynote speaker at the 2012 Investment Management Consultants (IMCA) conference in the National Harbor, Md., to a nearly full ballroom of conference attendees.
Goodwin, who won the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, said that if anything is a constant in politics and the economy, it's that both are cyclical and repeat the same downturns and upswings. She has written several other books about American presidents, is a news analyst for NBC and lectures widely.
This year's presidential election between President Obama and most likely Mitt Romney, now the presumptive Republican nominee, will probably be very close, she said, and if President Obama is re-elected he will have his work cut out for him. "History suggests that it will be an uncomfortable time for him (Obama)," Goodwin said.
Goodwin predicted that if Congress remains divisive, it will not bode well for resuscitating the national economy. "Congress has changed over the past 40 years," she said. "There's very little friendships being forged across the (congressional) aisle."
Political history, said Goodwin, has also demonstrated that businesses and American citizens are typically skeptical and resistant to embracing new laws and change until they have the chance to understand how it will directly impact them. Goodwin cited President Obama's health care bill and the Dodd Frank Act as two recent examples.
Throughout a one-hour question-and-answer session, Goodwin reiterated that American history has shown that seemingly impossible political and economic crises can be surmounted. "I think that it is still possible again," she said. "But we are going to need leadership in both business and in government like what happened during World War II. We can do it."