Lately I’ve been playing Civilization Revolution on my XBox. One feature of the game is that you need to choose a form of government for your empire. Democracy has a lot of advantages in terms of economic production. But the Civ version of democracy works the opposite way from the American version—the player remains unconstrained in his conduct of domestic affairs, but Congress likes to meddle with your foreign policy. In particular, any time a country you’re at war with offers you peace without reparations, congress makes you accept the offer. Consequently, anyone can start a war with you, see how it goes, and if it looks clear that you’re going to get the better of him and start seizing your cities, offer peace just when you’d already obtained the upper hand.
That’s obviously not how any real country would conduct its affairs. When you get the upper hand you want to press your advantage.
In other news “the White House hopes the summit will lay the groundwork for a modest bipartisan bill that would fall far short of Democrats’ original goals, but would give the president and his allies a success to show voters this fall.” And, yes, this is the typical Obama method but I don’t see any evidence that it works. None of the administration’s considerable successes were actually brought about in this way.