Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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In announcing his nomination yesterday of Elena Kagan for Justice Stevens’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama praised not only her achievements and intellect, but also her open-mindedness, and her “skill as a  consensus-builder.”  As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan was known for bringing peace to a famously fractious faculty, and for opening the doors to a variety of political viewpoints.  As solicitor general, she has spent the past year studying the Supreme Court, looking for ways to entice a majority to support the government’s position.  This appears to be the training and temperament the President is looking for at this moment on the Supreme Court. Some on the left are disappointed at this selection, believing that […]

At the end of 2009, both houses of Congress accomplished the remarkable feat of passing comprehensive health insurance reform legislation.  The only problem: the two versions of the legislation are significantly different.  To resolve those differences called for either a conference committee (an idea the Democrats rejected, since they felt it would only be used for delay by the Republicans), or a negotiated behind-the-scenes reconciliation of the two bills, or passage by one or the other chamber of Congress of exactly the version of the bill passed by the other.  So it would seem that we should have been very close to the goal of getting health insurance reform to the president’s desk.  The hard work was done, and only […]

The surprising choice of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace prize, coming so early in his term, has led to some interesting commentary on what exactly constitutes a noteworthy achievement in peacemaking. Many who feel the award is inappropriate contend that unless Obama were able to broker a significant treaty, or achieve an actual arms reduction, or some other similar accomplishment, he would not merit such an award. Supporters of the award, on the other hand, point to the transformation that President Obama has already achieved in the way Americans view the world, and the way the rest of the world views America. These conflicting points of view, as I discussed in my political blog, could be said to […]

Once again we see the nation’s mediator-in-chief at work in the White House, bringing together the two adversaries in a nasty little conflict, not necessarily to resolve the conflict, and definitely not to determine who was right and who was wrong, but simply to begin a dialogue and raise legitimate issues. I did a post on this today on my political blog, where I initially expressed annoyance that the Gates-Crowley incident was distracting our attention from the important policy issues that the nation needs to resolve this year, but then I ultimately decided that a conversation about racial profiling, police procedures, and whether the Gates arrest can be seen as a metaphor for changes happening in our society, might be […]

Paul Krugman says that President Obama messed up on health care big time at his press conference on Tuesday. Supposedly the President did that by undercutting his eloquent pitch for a so-called “public option” by refusing to state that a public option was a non-negotiable feature of his health care reform proposal. The exact quote is as follows: “We have not drawn lines in the sand other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don’t have health insurance or are underinsured.” According to Paul Krugman, President Obama is making a mistake by negotiating with himself, and thereby giving away more than he needs to. Krugman displays a common view of […]