There are two qualities that every politician has that are often in conflict.
First, there’s the ability to compromise and find common ground to attain results. Second, there’s the strength in sticking to ones principles, regardless of the outcome.
A good leader is able to balance those qualities. And naturally, he or she is both praised and vilified, often by the same people.
Lyndon Johnson was one who excelled at the political game. He was an ardent champion of Civil Rights and his Great Society approach to health care and education. But his prosecution of an unpopular war cost him another term in the White House.
Senate President Steve Sweeney reminds me of Johnson. Sweeney knows how to play the political game to further the causes he believes in and knows when to compromise to make things better but not perfect.
Chris Christie is another master of the political game but there’s a significant difference between the two men. I believe that Sweeney has empathy for the people of New Jersey, despite some of his actions that rile many Blue Jersey readers. Christie scores a big ZERO on the empathy meter.
I sat down with Sweeney in the State House this morning to get his views on a number of issues and to get him to answer the pressing question “Do you do your own tweets?”
I was disappointed by this response to my question about the Pinelands pipeline. We’re both South Jersey residents, and the Pinelands is a treasure that we should pass on to future generations. But Sweeney was unwilling to unilaterally condemn the pipeline. Let’s hope he manages to find a way to guarantee the pristine environment that is being challenged by the energy companies.
Sweeney was also generous with his praise of Majority Leader Weinberg. Could we see a Sweeney/Weinberg ticket in 2017?