Obama tried too hard to work with Republicans

WASHINGTON —  Amplified by the right-wing message machine, Republicans paint President Obama as an unyielding left-winger, an unreconstructed liberal who refuses to compromise. The president’s critics have turned the truth inside out: One of Obama’s greatest political weaknesses has been his stubborn — and unrequited — love for bipartisanship.

The president has made some of his biggest mistakes trying to woo a GOP opposition that has committed itself to frustrating him at every turn. If he had ignored recalcitrant Republicans, for example, his health care legislation might have become law without months of damaging political drama.

In an interview last week in his West Wing office, David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest advisers, acknowledged that the administration had been surprised by the unified Republican resistance to the president’s agenda.

“Well, I think we miscalculated,” Axelrod said. “We had the idea that, particularly in a time of national crisis, there would be more of an inclination to work together.

“One of the bracing moments was when the president was on his way over . . to Capitol Hill to talk to the Republican House caucus about the Recovery Act. They issued a press release while he was on his way over to say that they were going to vote en masse against it. And that was a signal . . of things to come.”

The  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in February 2009 without a single vote from a Republican in the House and the backing of just three in the Senate, even though nearly a third of it came in the form of tax cuts — usually a GOP tool for fixing anything. Most economists have credited the stimulus package with creating jobs and helping to end the recession, but Republicans continue to denounce it as boondoggle that blew a hole in the federal budget.

“I think the Republicans have been diabolically clever about how they’ve portrayed this,” Axelrod conceded. “They stood on the sidelines and made a decision that ‘we’re going to let him wrestle with this mess that we created. And then in two years we can try and hang him with it.’ “

After the stimulus, Obama and his Democratic allies tried to negotiate with GOP leaders on health insurance reform — a decision that gave critics time to mischaracterize the proposal and gin up opposition. Remember death panels? Government-funded abortions? Rationing?

Still, Obama kept going back with proposals meant to lure a few Republican votes for his agenda. That led to his disastrous announcement, just weeks before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, to expand off-shore drilling.

While Alexrod denied that the announcement amounted to a “quid pro quo,” Obama clearly believed that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a couple of other GOP senators would, in exchange, support groundbreaking energy legislation that included a price on carbon emissions.

Obama didn’t get what he bargained for. The months-long environmental disaster dominated news coverage, obscured the president’s work on the economy and gave his critics more fodder to claim his administration is incompetent. And, since the accident forced the White House to tiptoe away from its eager embrace of off-shore drilling, it also provided Graham an excuse to back away from energy legislation.

A naïve expectation of bipartisan cooperation hasn’t been Obama’s only mistake. He waited until the last possible moment to try to inspire his base for the mid-term elections. Unlike Ronald Reagan, whose poll ratings were slightly lower than Obama’s just before the 1982 mid-term elections, Obama didn’t take every possible opportunity to pin the economic mess on his predecessor.

Nor did the president tamp down the huge expectations generated by his historic election. That has proved costly, as was clear during the president’s encounter with the “exhausted” Velma Hart, a supporter who questioned him during a recent town hall-style meeting.

“There’s no doubt that part of what we’ve encountered is the mismatch between very, very high expectations and the magnitude of the problems that we’ve been called upon to solve,” Alexrod said.

But the expected Republican gains in the coming mid-term elections may solve one of Obama’s problems: his misplaced faith in logic, persuasion and cooperation in the national interest. Tea-party-fueled anger has produced a wave of GOP candidates for whom the word “compromise” is akin to treason. There can be no miscalculation about their intentions.

1,244 comments Add your comment

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:23 am

George W

- -Nothing is Free…..can you tell me what marriage is?- -

Something I’ll never do again.

the 95% solution

October 15th, 2010
11:24 am

Tucker is obviously among the 95% of all blacks who still approve of Barry’s performance.

lovelyliz

October 15th, 2010
11:24 am

WHEN HAVE THE REPUBLICANS EVERR SUBMITTED A BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET?

The Republicans don’t cut spending, they merely shift it. Even when the GOP had control of the White House and both houses on Congress they didn’t not submit federal budget. Didn’t ever come close even when keeping the Iraq II and Afghanistan wars off-budget.

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:25 am

Gotta hand it to the delusional Libs….they are going down with their Socialist Ship. LOL !!!

lovelyliz

October 15th, 2010
11:25 am

WHEN HAVE THE REPUBLICANS EVER SUBMITTED A BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET?

Never

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:25 am

I find it funny that blacks continually say that Republicans are “racist” when over 80% of all blacks voted for Obama…….now tell me…..who is racist?

John Hedberg

October 15th, 2010
11:25 am

While Obama preached bipartisanship during his presidential campaign, and everybody deemed Hillary Clinton too polarizing and partisan, it will be made clear on November 4th that most independents believe Obama is the true polarizing partisan. This reporter (like many left and right wing media figures these days) is speaking her emotions and not the facts.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:25 am

Nothing is Free….that was actually kind of funny. But you avoided the question.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:26 am

I am having a hard time thinking of positive things Pres. Obama has done.
As soon as I think of some I will post them.

Chris

October 15th, 2010
11:26 am

The funny thing is, I would have voted for Clinton. I think she could have a much better job.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:27 am

1. 1.Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending
2. Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices
3. Instituted enforcement for equal pay for women
4. Beginning the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq
5. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB
6. Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information
7. Ended media blackout on covering the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB; the media is now permitted to do so pending adherence to respectful rules and approval of fallen soldier’s family
8. The White House and federal government are respecting the Freedom of Information Act
9. Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible
10. Limits on lobbyist’s access to the White House

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
11:27 am

Oh sure. You and AmVet never voted for Obama.

I don’t claim to speak for brother AmVet, but I did not cast a vote for Obama because I didn’t want a Democrat anywhere near that WH.

But then again the Republicans didn’t want it either. Why else tie Caribou Barbie around the neck of McSame?

Karen

October 15th, 2010
11:27 am

Ah, ha-ha-ha!! Cindy, you are so funny!!

Tigerized

October 15th, 2010
11:27 am

Oh, I dunno – Obama has had spectacular success in bringing the country together.

Together as in galvanizing ordinary Americans into 9.12 groups and Tea Parties, all expressing their extreme dissatisfaction with Obama’s headlong plummet into suicidal socialism. Never mind the hard lessons and millions of deaths from failed tyrannies worldwide, Obama has stuck to his deeply flawed vision of Utopia no matter how loudly the majority of the country rejects it.

It’s OK, CT, keep up your cheerleading for the first president to make Carter look like a genius, and your feeble attempts to blame Republicans for the mess we’re in. We’ll keep reading your columns for a good laugh before letting the dog express her opinion on those absorbent AJC editorial pages.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:27 am

11. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration
12. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date
13. Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren’t even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan
14. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research
15. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research
16. New federal funding for science and research labs
17. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards
18. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants) after years of neglect
19. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools
20. New funds for school construction

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:28 am

21. The prison at Guantanamo Bay is being phased out
22. US Auto industry rescue plan
23. Housing rescue plan
24. $789 billion economic stimulus plan
25. The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying
26. US financial and banking rescue plan
27. The secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed
28. Ended the previous policy; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards
29. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops
30. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:28 am

31. Restarted the nuclear nonproliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols
32. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic
33. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions
34. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office
35. Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job
36. US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast
37. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles
38. Cash for clunkers program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulated auto sales
39. Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government
40. Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:28 am

Ms Tucker is why they are called “Loony Libs”. LOL !!!

INTJ

October 15th, 2010
11:29 am

This piece requires a level of self-delusion I would find alarming in someone with any real responsibility. Tucker is lucky she doesn’t operate heavy machinery. Her examples of Obama’s attempts at “bipartisanship” are both scant and suspect, to say the very least.

- Obama hands the Republicans a done deal with the so-called stimulus package (which, in case you haven’t noticed, didn’t work as advertised) – a giant mass of pork-barrel special interests and “tax cuts” which were actually welfare, tax credits for people who don’t pay taxes – and because they don’t thank him and vote for it, he’s the spurned one?

- Obama and the Democrats force on the American people a clearly unconstitutional “health care” law as their top priority, restricting our freedoms, destroying existing insurance plans, spending over a trillion borrowed taxpayer dollars, all budgeted on a cut in Medicare spending that they weren’t willing to do, using questionably ethical rules to pass, for which the people did not ask and do not appreciate. Because the one or two Republicans Obama actually talked to did not vote for it, the GOP is the partisan side?

Telling people what they should vote for while demonizing them and their views in public is not the same as negotiating. Trying to peel off the fringe members of the opposition in order to get the one or two votes you need is not bipartisanship. And what you’ve described the administration doing here is not governing. As the Wall Street Journal reported in January 2009:

“Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the [stimulus] package, the new president, according to participants, replied: ‘I won.’… With those two words…the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4.”

Come January, when he complains that a Republican Congress is pushing its own ideas, and ignoring his, let him – and the willfully ignorant supporters like Tucker – remember his approach to “bipartisanship.” They may find Obama’s own words hard to swallow.

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:29 am

JohnW

Welcome aboard John.

Ms Tucker is the voice of the American Liberal.

You have got to hand it to them, water has covered the deck and they are heading toward the bottom, but standing on the deck and screaming are people like C Tuckers saying: We aren’t sinking. We aren’t sinking.

They will be saying it until their boat settles in the mud at the bottom.

It’s just a shame that they couldn’t be so dedicated to telling the truth.

jeff

October 15th, 2010
11:29 am

What a silly article.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:29 am

DOC yeah that banking rescue plan is working great. haha

The fact is that some of these ideas were not bad. However the majority of them are just BAD ideas.

2by4

October 15th, 2010
11:29 am

made a speely mistake on relay. Just in case they say I cannot spell

2by4

October 15th, 2010
11:30 am

typing to fast spelling mistake

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:30 am

Doc Cheney

yawn…

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:32 am

41. Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program
42. Instituted a new policy on Cuba , allowing Cuban families to return home to visit loved ones
43. Ended the previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions
44. Expanding vaccination programs
45. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters
46. Closed offshore tax safe havens
47. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals
48. Ended the previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back
49.. Ended the previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry’s predatory practices
50. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:32 am

George W

Marriage, the actual term has always been defined as a legal union between a man and a woman. Of course, now that definition has changed.

So what is marriage? What time is it? It changes every day.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:32 am

51. Lower drug costs for seniors
52. Ended the previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings
53. Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel
54. Improved housing for military personnel
55. Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses
56. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals
57. Increasing student loans
58. Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program
59. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy
60. Established a new cyber security office

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:32 am

Doc….again all bad ideas…do you want me to combat each one?

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:34 am

Doc Cheney

1. Weakened, intentionally, this Nation for generations to come.

Chris

October 15th, 2010
11:34 am

We’re going to start getting into…

101. Put out his cigarette in the proper ashtray on Tuesday

…here in a minute.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:34 am

Why is everyone making such a big deal about the resurgence of conservatives In America and criticizing Ms. Tucker for being liberal?
What’s the point?
Georgia has been a conservative state and will continue to be (even if a moderate Democrat is elected governor).
The same old song about the rest of the country being more liberal and being a threat to Georgia is so old and dumb. Who cares?

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:35 am

Chris…..haha no kidding.

JoeAmerican100

October 15th, 2010
11:35 am

An people pay for your biased, delusional rants. It is this type of delusion which prevents true debate. How can you debate or negotiate with someone who sees all Conservatives as evil and Obama as the son of God … hint Obama is not even particularly smart

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:35 am

61. Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force; this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.
62. Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts
63. Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness
64. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient
65. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced
66. Improving benefits for veterans
67. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration
68. Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud
69. The FDA is now regulating tobacco
70. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules

RIGHTISWRONG

October 15th, 2010
11:35 am

George W – you only wish I and the multitude of folks that want to see this country move forward would Go Away. I am from ATL, YOU LEAVE!!!

Oh, and I work for myself and I have 18 employee’s, so don’t tell me about hard work.

So let me ask you a question, what do you think (I know that’s hard for you to do) Obama’s motive is?

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:36 am

Yeah, Georgie. Get started. You have a long way to go and not buch of a brain to work with.

Ronin

October 15th, 2010
11:36 am

Fact : The GOP was often shut out of Congressional policy meetings and had little input on the bellweather legislation.
Fact : Obama had a roundtable with the GOP that he spent monopolizing the time and giving them little opportunity to interject
Fact : Obama’s leftist agenda SHOULD be rejected by ANY and ALL conservatives! He stands AGAINST everything they stand for.

Quit painting Obama as the victim. He wanted the job, he got the job and now he is failing at the job. The least he could do is man up and admit it.

jimmyc1955

October 15th, 2010
11:37 am

Maybe Mr. Obama should talk to Ms. Pelosi who locked republicans out of all the bill creation sessions and denied them even the opportunity to review bills before they came up for votes. The promise to post bills in advance so they could be read was ignored and forgotten. It was clear from the begining that Pelosi had zero interest in working with republicans but simply choose to ram legislation through by what ever means she could accomplish – and it left a very sour taste in the voting public’s mouth. How a party with a super majority in the senate and a significant voting majority in the house can complain about they couldn’t get anything done because the party that didn’t have enough votes for filibusters blocked legislation – that completely eludes me. This is pitiful and utterly shameless.

John

October 15th, 2010
11:37 am

Ms Tucker, you’re delusional and you should stay off the kool aid for a few weeks.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:38 am

RIGHTISWRONG….nice third grade response retard. I am from “Atlanta” (not ATL) as well.

Obama’s motive is to appeal to the rest of the world that the USA is an apologetic country. He believes in wealth distribution. Punishing successful people and business. He has socialists and communists views that are dangerous and quite frankly scary.

Malcolm X

October 15th, 2010
11:38 am

@ Aubrey…..”yawn”……..probably what you were doing in class when the teacher was trying to educate your tiny, childish, hillbilly brain.

Oxnard

October 15th, 2010
11:38 am

Cynthia, would you please give us the name of your supplier? Those are some good drugs you were taking when you wrote this one.

GABob

October 15th, 2010
11:39 am

With all due respect, I believe that Ms. Tucker has lost her mind!

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:39 am

Georgia is a conservative state. We get it. But not everyone who lives here is conservative. Some of us are actually thoughtful, intellignet, skilled, educated and employed.
The national trend is toward progressive social policy with little movement in either direction toward fiscal policy.
Georgia is business as usual, always slow to keep up. Nothing new about that. No need to celebrate.

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:39 am

RIGHTISWRONG

Move forward?

Please pick up a book and read about the people in the past that wanted the government to force the people to “move forward”. It never works out well.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:39 am

RIGHTISWRONG….Also he is supposed to represent the American people….thus far he has done anything but that.

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:39 am

The only thing Barry “The Deceptive” Soetoro should ever be given the responsibility to lead is a South Chicago ACORN Training Class in Alinsky Styled Thug Politics. Oh, wait…..

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:40 am

71. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports
72. Authorized discussions with North Korea and private mission by Pres. Bill Clinton to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons
73. Authorized discussions with Myanmar and mission by Sen. Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive
74. Making more loans available to small businesses
75. Established independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare
76. Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court
77. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans
78. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000
79. Renewed loan guarantees for Israel
80. Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:40 am

Doc Cheney….So why do you live here?