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

Jeff

October 15th, 2010
11:40 am

It amazes me that people like the writer can be this disconnected from reality. Holding closed door meetings re: Health Care is not “working too hard” with the GOP. Using reconciliation for the first time for a non-budgetary issue in our history is not “working to hard” with the GOP.

The plain fact of the debacle that is Obama’s Presidency is that the only bipartisanship that has existed has been AGAINST his agenda. Obama and the Dems controlled both houses up until the election of Scott Brown. That means they could’ve passed anything they wanted…literally ANYTHING. It was because the Dems didn’t like Healthcare that it didn’t pass in the the normal, non-Chicago style politics, manner. It wasn’t the GOP.

Attaching the offshore drilling to the GOP is frivilous and outright laughable. Obama’s biggest problem is he’s not a good leader. He never has been, and he never will be. At every stop in his political career, he’s immediately begun stumping for his next job. As a state senator in Chicago, he started stumping for Congress. Once in Congress he started stumping for the Presidency. Now that he’s got the top gig, he doesn’t know what to do because he’s literally never really done anything other than campaign.

Thankfully those who were hoodwinked into voting for him have seen what a complete failure he has been and the country will cast its vote on November 2nd to rectify one of its largest historical mistakes.

FA Hayek

October 15th, 2010
11:40 am

Cynthia Tucker Pulitzer Prize Winner is an Oxymoron

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:41 am

Doc Cheney

- -Some of us are actually thoughtful, intellignet, skilled, educated and employed.- -

Yes we are. And there are also some liberals that are houghtful, intellignet, skilled, educated and employed, but not nearly as many as there are conservatives.

Your snide little remarks shows ignorance and none of the things that you claim

[...] more here: Obama tried too hard to work with Republicans | Cynthia Tucker This entry was written by more systems games & filed under Obama and tagged amplified, [...]

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:42 am

Nothing is Free……very nice.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:42 am

Complaining that Republicans have not been allowed enough involvement in creation of new laws or “have been locked out of the bill writing process” demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the fundamental political process in Washington.

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:42 am

Doc Cheney:

In 2010, Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals

Last year’s increase in conservatism among independents is holding

PRINCETON, NJ — Conservatives have maintained their leading position among U.S. ideological groups in the first half of 2010. Gallup finds 42% of Americans describing themselves as either very conservative or conservative. This is up slightly from the 40% seen for all of 2009 and contrasts with the 20% calling themselves liberal or very liberal.

LOL !!

Chris

October 15th, 2010
11:42 am

Doc Cheney – again, with the brush. Why close out a message to those who might be receptive by insulting them?

Oops...another hater

October 15th, 2010
11:42 am

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

Keep preaching that Hate!!!

Good Grief

October 15th, 2010
11:42 am

Nothing Is Free has a point on learning about those who want us to “move forward.” The progressive movement is full of people who support eugenics, racial superiority, social justice, collective salvation, tax & spend economics, just to name a few. The history of Progressivism is actually quite frightening.

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:43 am

81. Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan
82. New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans
83. Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production
84. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters
85. Paid for redecoration of White House living quarters out of his own pocket
86. Held first Seder in White House
87. Attempting to reform the nation’s healthcare system which is the most expensive in the world yet leaves almost 50 million without health insurance and millions more under insured
88. Has put the ball in play for comprehensive immigration reform
89. Has announced his intention to push for energy reform
90. Has announced his intention to push for education reform

Polonius

October 15th, 2010
11:43 am

This column is a laughable joke. Lewis Carroll couldn’t dream this stuff up. The Socialist in Chief did nothing to reach out to Republicans, unless you count Arlen Specter. Obama’s entire program has been shoved down the American people’s throats against our will. His idea of bipartisanship is for Republicans to simply embrace socialism, which is antithetical to their core beliefs thank God!! I am praying for 2 years of gridlock after November 2nd.

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:43 am

Doc Cheney

I love this one:

71. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports

but amazingly enough, the 2500 page “stimulus package” appeared overnight. Who wrote that one?

alaskaman

October 15th, 2010
11:43 am

How stupid does this writer think we are?

Bob

October 15th, 2010
11:44 am

I love reading this column. Tucker cannot write anything to accurately criticize this president and is really an Obama lapdog. You’ve got to be kidding me. She belongs in any sequel to Idiocracy for sure.

Reality

October 15th, 2010
11:44 am

@Doc Cheney – I love it! The only problem is that the idiot conservatives here on this blog seem to be totally ignoring your posts…. They still wear their blinders and only listen to FOX news.

CyKick

October 15th, 2010
11:44 am

>>
“Obama and his Democratic allies tried to negotiate with GOP leaders on health insurance reform ”

Yes, I seem to remember that Obama held a meeting with the Repub bigwigs and proceeded to ignore every suggestion.
<<

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:44 am

Oops…another hater

yawning at liberal blather is hate? LOL !!!!

john

October 15th, 2010
11:44 am

WOW! Just WOW!

Auburn Fan

October 15th, 2010
11:45 am

Wow 638 comments already! Everyone must agree with you one this one CT.

Poor President Obama those nasty Republicans are just making his job so difficult. Maybe the voters will agree with you and give the honest hardworking Democrats 2 more years to correct all the evil the Republicans have caused.

Thanks for a good laugh.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:45 am

Reality…..great post of your own…..Doc Cheney is just about as good of a poster as Obama is president. COME ON NOVEMBER!!!

Doc Cheney

October 15th, 2010
11:45 am

To answer your question, I live here by choice. I could live anywhere I wanted, and I am a fifth generation Georgian. I choose to stay here and work to make it a better place for future generations.
Hopefully, some day kids won’t have to go to the 50th worst schools in the nation or pay state taxes for legislators to make up goofy laws to protect us from illegal workers who make up about .125% of the population.

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:45 am

Doc Cheney

While you are stealing someone else’s post (You liberal are sure honest!!)) be sure to include this at the end: Oh, and he built a swing set for the girls outside the Oval Office!

it’s in the original post on CafeMom.

Jay

October 15th, 2010
11:46 am

This makes me laugh out loud. Let me get this straight. Obama went wrong because he tried to work with the GOP too much?? What planet are you liberals on? Obama sucker punched the American people with his Hope and Change mantra and has conducted himself as the most divisive president since Rich Nixon. Apparently everyone that resists Obama’s ideas are either stupid, racist, or power hungry. This is the liberal argument? This is truly the most childishly arrogant administration in history. The American people aren’t stupid.

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:46 am

The Libs need to gather in their “Prayer Circles and Clean the Spirits”

They better gather quickly, time is running out.

LOL !!!

Dan

October 15th, 2010
11:46 am

Tucker: The black Helen Thomas.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:46 am

CyKick….and look where the healthcare bill is sending the democrats now……great job of self emploding!

SamAdams25

October 15th, 2010
11:46 am

This has to be the most ludicrous article I have read this month. Obama has proven himself to be a radical socialist by his agenda and the people he surrounds himself with. His czar list is a virtual Who’s Who of radical extremists, and he is in bed with all sorts of corrupt outfits like ACORN, SEIU, and big labor unions.

The majority of Americans are realizing that “progressive” is simply a more palatable label for socialist. In fact, virtually the entire “progressive” caucus (over 70 congressional Democrats) are members of the Democratic Socialist Party of America. The vast majority of Americans want no part of socialism, and will begin purging socialists from our government next month.

Malcolm X

October 15th, 2010
11:46 am

@ George……thank God he does lives here, if not, you narrow-minded, racist, hillbillies will take over the South and eventually destroy the country!! LOL! Some intellect is needed to infiltrate the South!

Oops...another hater

October 15th, 2010
11:47 am

“the teacher was trying to educate your tiny, childish, hillbilly brain”

Above is the hate I was referring too…

Auburn Fan

October 15th, 2010
11:47 am

I read the article again and this has to be your best work ever!

This is an award winner for sure.

Mongo

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

Obama fell into the same idiotic trap most Democrats fall into. They think the American people are bright enough to see through all the BS the Repugs spew out.
He should have given these losers tha back of his hand and passed bills for the good of Americans. Maybe he has finally woken up to the fact that conseratives are scum and will do and say anything to appease their corporate/ religious nut masters.

CJ

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

DOESN’T KNOW OR LEARN FROM HIS OWN HISTORY–it was still before your time, my dear!

Booger Presley

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

“Some intellect is needed to infiltrate the South!”

If people like Nalcolm X left The South the intelligence factor would increase exponentially and that by default.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

Malcolm X…..that is right I am racist….that arguement is so old and hold no weight anymore. But if I am racist then how come 80-90% of all blacks have a blind faith for Obama?

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

Reality

We see how many government enlarging programs he has listed.

We are just amazed that you support this kind of government expansion . . . oh yes, you’re a liberal. You NEED the government to take care of you. And Pal, you also need for the conservatives to pay for it. Because as we all know:

SPENDING OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY IS WHAT THE DEMOCRATS LOVE TO DO!!!!!!

Freedom Fan

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

“Obama tried too hard to work with Republicans”
- Cynthia Tucker, delusional Obama fan

No Cynthia, obviously the Obammunists’ main problem is that y’all didn’t smear us Tea Party folks as “racists” enough.

Steve851

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

This is a total joke. Obama is the most partisan president in my 62-year lifetime. While he has his strengths, on this point, he is a total disgrace

Reality

October 15th, 2010
11:49 am

@Bob – Um, I think that CT is criticizing Obama here. She is saying that he made a MISTAKE by trying too hard to work WITH republicans.

CJ

October 15th, 2010
11:49 am

Mongo–”the back of his hand”? How’s that Marxist tyranny and hopey changey thing working for ya? Got a job yet?

Chris

October 15th, 2010
11:49 am

NIF @ 1145 – Oh snap!

Aubrey

October 15th, 2010
11:49 am

Ms Tucker is yet another leftist that simply cannot imagine why all don’t worship Barry as she does. The desperation is embaressing.

Nothing Is Free

October 15th, 2010
11:49 am

Malcolm X

The only narrow minded racist hillbilly that is here is you, pal.

George W

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

OK IF THE REPUBS ARE SO WRONG…….CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHY THE REPUBLICANS ARE ABOUT TO HAVE A HUGE NOVEMBER?????

JHlion

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

This is perhaps one of the stupidest editorials I have ever seen, and that takes a lot of doing on the author’s part. Remember when O sat down with the repubs and when he didn’t like what he heard stated: ‘I won, you lost, get over it’. He has been the most divisively arrogant President I have ever seen and surrounded himself with the same sort of people.

RASTUDD

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

Cynthia
When are you and the rest of Black Americans going to realize that thats not rain on your legs. The Dems have been peeing on your legs for so long its just a shame they have y’all convinced its raining.

Booger Presley

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

See…no mention of whitey, hillbililes, etc. If Mongo can do it then all you haters can also!

Im putting a Gold Star beside Mongos name on the Blogger of the Day calendar.

Greg

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

Wow, where to start? Health care is important, but people are concerned about jobs right now.
The ARRA was a joke. The tax cuts were temporary, so I like many others, have been saving mine. 9.5%+ unemployment is a bit more than we were promised, by the way.
Cap and trade? Great way to cripple what’s left of an industrial economy.

“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.” – maybe if you had tried to get them to work with you. On something that would work.

18 days until we begin to right the ship.

Rich

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

I have had a pretty bad year too. I have paid no attention to my job, vacationed relentlessly and quite honestly my finances are in tatters. There is very little hope that I will change my ways, in fact my motto for 2011 is “Party On”.

I’m hoping Cynthia can try to market me too, compared to the president’s record it should be easy

Reality

October 15th, 2010
11:51 am

@Nothing is Free -

Again, you spout insults without facts. SOMETHING YOU REPUBLICANS LOVE TO DO!

Bush spent the most money of any administration in history. Was there any outcry? No. What did he spend on? Our tax dollars that were essentually funneled to his wealthy buddies in Texas (see Halibertan).

Obama has spent money, yes. His spending was an attempt to save this Country from the recession. SHAME ON HIM?

Give me a break!