7:36am

Sat January 1, 2011
Politics

New Year's Resolutions For Politicians

New Year's Day is a chance to start anew -- a time to learn from the mistakes of the previous year, with hopeful resolutions for a happier and more prosperous year ahead.

But don't you sometimes wish you could make resolutions for other people? In the realm of politics, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank offered his suggestions for 2011 to NPR's Jennifer Ludden.

1. President Obama

The president ended 2010 with a number of historic victories: the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the health care overhaul among them. But those successes came with a good deal of frustration and partisan bickering.

Milbank's recommendation for the president: Pilates classes.

"Now, you may think this is confusing because he is, in fact, in quite good shape. But the constant complaint from everybody is he doesn't really stand up in negotiations -- his spine isn't stiff enough. So Pilates would give him that core strength that I think he would need."

2. Congress

The 111th Congress was one of the most productive congressional sessions ever -- though you might not know it from approval ratings. Next week, a brand-new class arrives and Republicans take over the House.

"All 535 of them should require themselves to participate in a trust-building workshop this year," Milbank recommends. "You know those things where you put on blindfolds and you stand on a wall and fall over backward and your partner catches you, or your partner leads you, you know, through a pretend landmine? But each Republican has to be paired with a Democrat. They have to learn to build some trust this year. They have to learn that they are, in fact, human -- that they're not up against some evil enemy every moment of the day."

3. The American Electorate

Politics is something of a spectator sport. So, what does Milbank recommend for American voters?

"I know we say it every year: This is the year we are finally going to go on a diet. If you look at the polls ... everything that we need to do as a government, as a society -- we need to cut the debt, we need to cut the spending, we need an increase of taxes -- all these painful things, we're not willing to do. The polls show repeatedly we're not willing to do the hard things. So this is the year we're going to eat the vegetables, we're going to eat the fiber and we're really going to cut some of the fat out. That would be my resolution for America." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.