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It was a move that was stunning if not for the fact that a former U.S. President held a press conference at the White House than for the fact that the current President excused himself while it happened. Former President Bill Clinton took the podium to talk to reporters about the necessity of compromise on some national issues and the need to fight on others. The move was made to provide answers following President Obama’s inability to satisfy critics of his compromise that extends tax cuts while also extending unemployment benefits.


  1. In what ways does having former President Bill Clinton address reporters reflect social capital?
  2. Consider the approval ratings of both presidents. What effect, if any, does this have on persuasiveness and credibility? Was the decision to have President Clinton address the media a good one? Why or why not?
  3. Clearly, President Obama will be at odds with the new Republican-led House of Representatives on several key issues. Review President Clinton’s remarks. Now examine the various conflict management styles and discuss when one might be more appropriate than another. Was the President’s decision to compromise on extending tax cuts a wise one?
  4. President Clinton mentioned health care as a major issue. A number of key Republicans indicate they wish to repeal the recently-passed health care bill. Should President Obama negotiate with them? If President Obama chooses to negotiate, how should he go about ensuring it would be effective?

SOURCE: J. Weisman, “Bill Clinton Takes Center Stage,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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