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

Amy

October 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

Ms. Tucker, you can’t be serious. The media elites can continue to publish stories denying the truth, but the American people are not blind. President Obama has not made a serious effort to work with Republicans. To the contrary, he excluded them from the discussion and made clear that he won the election, which meant that his ideas, not theirs, would be heard. He is likely the most partisan, and frankly arrogant, president in modern history, and this has turned many Americans against him. Bill Clinton came to the center after the mid-term elections, joining with Republicans in Congress to implement fiscally responsible policies that helped our country, but I fear our current President will not do so, and it will be the country’s loss.

daisey

October 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

Oh, and by the way, Republicans were locked out of all talks on health care and financial reform. Obama is too arrogant to make any concessions. He had the power and he had the votes and he told the Republicans to shut up and go away.

Elmer Fudd

October 15th, 2010
12:54 pm

Obama is incredible. By day mild mannered President, but by night he heals the sick, fights crime, feeds the poor, rescues miners, writes number one best sellers, travels the country meeting the common folk, and still has time to play golf.

He’s the new UnderDog!

Thanks Cynthia I now see the light. Golly Gee. If it weren’t for those dastard Republicans the President would have found a cure for cancer by now. I believe I believe (that your full of it)

rtjones

October 15th, 2010
12:54 pm

what %$*#@ planet is ms. tucker from?

Ed

October 15th, 2010
12:54 pm

If you think Obama delegating the writing of Porkulus and Health Care to uber partisan Pelosi was an attempt at bi-partisanship, you’re clueless. Of course in Obamaworld, bi-partisanship means Republicans agreeing with his policies. I know you liberals like to say he is not socialist, but trying to create a state run health care system, limiting what private citizens can make in salary, bowing to dictators while turning your back to long time allies such as England and Israel and looking at controlling almost all manufacturing through the use of cap and tax, what other conclusion can one draw.

On top of all that, his understanding of basic economics is at the junior high level. Note to the Messiah and all other Democrats, if government wants to create jobs, the best way is to shut up, sit in the corner and let the private sector do it. But first tell them you’re not going to tax and spend them to death and hold anyone trying to make a profit in contempt.

Oh Please

October 15th, 2010
12:55 pm

@Tech Man,

How dare they? How dare the unions support pro-union candidates? This must be stopped!

HDB

October 15th, 2010
12:56 pm

daisey
October 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

When Jum DeMint said – “Healthcare will be Obama’s Waterloo!”…when Mitch McConnell said “We’re voting “NO” on everything!”…..and much of healtrh care reform is BASED on a Republican MODEL from Massachussetts…please inform me as to whom is obstructing??

Just sayin’……….

hobby

October 15th, 2010
12:56 pm

Reality @12:26
I’d be willing to bet that you did not get to your great financial position by working 9 to 5 at a union job or by waiting for your next welfare check!

JDW

October 15th, 2010
12:57 pm

@ George W

When Barnes took office Ga unemployment was 3.6% when he left it was 4.3% not really a big change…that comes after 8 years of Sonny 4.3% to 10%. The other disturbing trend is that for Barnes tenure Ga rates were always better than the national average. Sonny has managed to flip that and now we are worse than the national average…again the failure I see is one of Republicans.

John Townsend

October 15th, 2010
12:57 pm

No Ms. Tucker, the reason it took so long to pass the so-called health care reform is that Pres. Obama had to convince (cajole, bribe ?) recalcitrant members of HIS OWN PARTY. This is a clear sign of political overreach – not what he promised during the campaign. A Disillusioned Independent

Tom Feher

October 15th, 2010
12:57 pm

Thank God for Cynthia T’ s take on the presidents “working” with the GOP.
What planet is Cynthia on? It’s an elitist attitude that will be tolerated until Nov 3rd,MMX.( bloggers , that’s 2010)
I remember a column Ms Tucker wrote where she was opining about the death of conservatism.
What say you now Ms Tucker? Dissapear already dinosaur.

Ward Cleaver

October 15th, 2010
12:58 pm

“…well you see Beaver your allowance has been suspended due to our Presidents Healthcare policies. Why our healthcare premiums are increasing for the 12% this year and will probably do so for the next 3 to 5 years.
Well thats kinda crummy dad.
No Beaver, thats real crummy. Now get washed up for supper.
Ok Dad.”

daisey

October 15th, 2010
12:59 pm

Cynthia Tucker has offically become a joke.

Tech Man

October 15th, 2010
1:01 pm

JDW
October 15th, 2010
12:57 pm

Can you fill me in on Barnes and GA 400 $?

Mike A

October 15th, 2010
1:01 pm

Could you be more wrong? The problem isn’t the republicans (although they certainly have made idiots of themselves). The problem is bad policy that Americans don’t want.

Susan

October 15th, 2010
1:02 pm

This is one of the funniest things I’ve read all year. I hope the OB people keep up this tune.

HDB

October 15th, 2010
1:04 pm

Ward Cleaver
October 15th, 2010
12:58 pm

Did you also note that PRIOR to this Administration, premiums were accelerating at a rate of a 30% increase for BCBS, 36% for Humana and UHC??

Check this out……from sfgate:
A new survey predicts that health care costs will increase more than 10 percent next year, a rate that – while it far outpaces inflation – is significantly lower than similar hikes in recent years.

A report released by Aon Consulting Worldwide estimates employers will spend about 10.6 percent more in 2009 for the same health benefit package they’re offering this year. This price bump is similar to last year’s, but a far cry from increases of 15 percent and 16 percent in 2001 and 2002.

Ed

October 15th, 2010
1:05 pm

Cynthia, where have you been and who has taken over your body to write such drivel?

Jack Sheet

October 15th, 2010
1:05 pm

Ha ha good one Cynthia!

Wasn’t the President’s version of “working with the GOP” to tell them “I won” and to shut up and rubber stamp his disastrous policies?

Thank God they didn’t or things could be worse.

I can see November from my house!

Mr Right

October 15th, 2010
1:05 pm

I see that Deal is leading for governor. This is a person so corrupt that he was effectively kicked out of Congress. This is a person so corrupt that he has already been caught siphoning money away from his campaign into his own pocket. This is a person so corrupt that he refuses to reveal his tax returns.

And put someone in that takes tax credits on a house that he don’t own ?

gail

October 15th, 2010
1:05 pm

This woman is a mess!!! She is so brainwashed. Get a life Cynithia!

DeeCam

October 15th, 2010
1:08 pm

I’m thinking Cynthia’s current koolade must be made with magic mushrooms. Obama has been blatantly partisan and arrogantly incompetent. His idea of bi-partisan is “I’ll tell you what you believe” Total agreement with his bad ideas without discussion or compromise is bipartisan in the current White House. What a joke.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 15th, 2010
1:08 pm

A buddy of mine, when he was an early teen, constructed something he called a “dog crap cannon” and it did exactly what you’re imagining.

CT’s blog is the journalistic equivalent of my friend’s rather smelly contraption.

Prophet

October 15th, 2010
1:09 pm

Cynthia,

What planet are you living on, Planet of Apes?

stranger in a strange land

October 15th, 2010
1:10 pm

being new to your world – and watching Seinfeld episodes referring to ‘Bizarro’ world – I thought this was made up. however, now I understand Bizarro world is real and CT lives there. maybe i will visit there next.

Mr Right

October 15th, 2010
1:10 pm

daisey
October 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

When Jum DeMint said – “Healthcare will be Obama’s Waterloo!”…when Mitch McConnell said “We’re voting “NO” on everything!”…..and much of healtrh care reform is BASED on a Republican MODEL from Massachussetts…please inform me as to whom is obstructing??

THANK YOU Republicans for obstructing’ if it wasn’t for you, we would be a sure enough a disaster!!

paleo-neo-Carlinist

October 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

CT, boy oh boy, I seem to be channeling Dick Cheney a lot these days. re: Obama and the GOP; so what? excuse the cynical take, but just as the GOP is the party of “no” I think Obama’s “rech across the aisle” sensibilities are shrewd political stuff and not genuine. and therein lies the rub. the previous administration was very much “our way or the highway” and I would argue that when puch comes to shove on the major Obama initiatives (healtchare reform, ending combat in Iraq, the economy, etc.) , Obama’s insincerity toward the right is as “genuine” as his disregard for the far left. or as Bill Maher once observed, sometimes Obama needs to be more like Bush. to wit; sometimes it is not wise to neogtiate (horse-trade) ideology/principle.

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

…and watching Seinfeld episodes…

There’s your sign.

Oh Please

October 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

I love CT! She really knows how to bring out the nutty conservatives and get them to post about 1000 messages on her blog. THAT is how she keeps her job!

Way to go, Tucker!

Graeme

October 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

You have to be embarrassed when columnists just make it up. Obama never tried to work with the Republicans, and she gives no examples of him doing it. The Health Care bill, despite the C-span promises, was crafted in secret, not only out of Republican sight, but out of the sight of most Democrats, who could only stump for it in the vaguest possible terms because they didn’t know what was in it.

Obama’s idea of working with the Republicans was in thinking that they’d abandon their deepest principles and blindly sign on to anything he asked just because he smiled big. If you listen to pretty much any speech he gives now, he’s very clear that he thinks they’re all awful and he has no desire to compromise with any of their stuff. And never did.

JDW

October 15th, 2010
1:18 pm

@ Tech Man

Back in 2003, former Gov. Roy Barnes directed some of the toll revenue to the Atlantic Station development. The State Road and Tollway Authority later ruled that the tolls could pay for improvements to any road, interchange or overpass that directly intersects the highway, or even along parallel routes that would directly affect mobility on Ga. 400.

Bit of a stretch in my opinion as is Purdue’s latest gambit…question on Barnes is was he a “miserable failure” (I think not) and is he a better choice that Raw Deal….pretty sure a trained monkey passes this one.

ConservaTarian

October 15th, 2010
1:19 pm

HDB…

You lament, “When Jum DeMint said – “Healthcare will be Obama’s Waterloo!”…when Mitch McConnell said “We’re voting “NO” on everything!”…..and much of healtrh care reform is BASED on a Republican MODEL from Massachussetts…please inform me as to whom is obstructing??”

You (and others of your ilk) may call this OBSTRUCTING. I prefer to call it a REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE BASIC BELIEFS. Why should conservatives “meet the President and the Democrats halfway” when this means ONLY caving in on HALF of your core beliefs about the role of government.

If that’s OBSTRUCTION, I am DAMN PROUD to be an OBSTRUCTIONIST! I not only say NO to Obama and the Democrats, I say, “HELL NO!”

granny godzilla

October 15th, 2010
1:20 pm

Tech man

keep trying….

there are some sites I can never get to link right…..

i can’t get anything to link from The Daily Caller either….tried fiddlin’ with it….to no avail

Freeman

October 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

I don’t even have to read the article, just consider the source. Let’s keep this in mind. When the the Republicans balked at the $8 billion stimulus, BO response was “I won. Elections have consequences.”
“nuff said.

freedom97068

October 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

Obama ~ the great uniter-in-chief. Right! He used the same approach with the Republicans that he used with the heads of insurance companies, big banks, etc. Villify them and then call them together to say…”I don’t care if you support me or not; I have a 67% approval rating and I don’t need you!” To his credit though, he did pull together a centrist crew of czars and staff?!? Ms. Tucker, please start taking your meds…you’re delusional.

Sarah Palin

October 15th, 2010
1:23 pm

I shoot ilk from my helicopter.

Earl

October 15th, 2010
1:23 pm

This kind of complete and utter nonsense is why I will never spend any money to buy the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation. When they come to my door I tell them when Cynthia Tucker is fired I will reconsider a subscription. Their usual response? “I hear that a lot”. In the 20+ years I have lived in Atlanta I have not read or heard one thing from her that made any sense whatsoever. She is over her head when she gets up and it is all down hill from there.

Papa John

October 15th, 2010
1:25 pm

Ms. Tucker what in the world are you smoking? It obviously darn good stuff. Are you passing any of it around?

Simon

October 15th, 2010
1:25 pm

Please send me whatever happy drug you are using. I would also like to get totally out of touch with reality.

Tech Man

October 15th, 2010
1:25 pm

JDW
October 15th, 2010
1:18 pm

So in the case of GA 400 you say it is better to get forgiveness instead of permission.

With regards to your monkey one will have to hold their nose to vote for either.

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

Granny Godzilla

next time try tinyurl.com

ConservaTarian

October 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

OH PLEASE says, “get them to post about 1000 messages on her blog. THAT is how she keeps her job!”

Tell me this. How do 1000, 2000 or 10,000 blog postings translate into AJC subscriptions and significant advertising revenues? The AJC will be paying CT in expired Publix Buy One Get One Free coupons if their revenues don’t increase. But, she’s probably “made enough money already” anyway, don’t you think?

Tech Man

October 15th, 2010
1:27 pm

granny godzilla
October 15th, 2010
1:20 pm

Thanks! I will keep trying on some old blogs. I am a slow learner but I do learn. :)

PerryM

October 15th, 2010
1:27 pm

Cynthia, you’ve got some real mental problems – very severe.

Imam Obama and his cronies had a super majority in congress – and the Imam worked too hard with the GOP? He never spoke with them.

Cynthia you can’t blame the mess we are in by claiming the Imam worked too hard with the GOP.

Really, Cynthia, seek professional mental help – don’t try the do-it-yourself stuff you’ve been using – it ain’t working.

silenceisgolden

October 15th, 2010
1:27 pm

Usually I say CT is feeble minded like Fredo, now she is just a lying shill for the administration. A professional embarrassment.

Tech Man

October 15th, 2010
1:28 pm

ConservaTarian
October 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

Advertisers on the website “pay by click” in many instances.

Pablo

October 15th, 2010
1:28 pm

OK… what if it was true that Barack Obama actually tried to be bipartisan? It would account to a whole lot of nothing, because his biggest liability has been from the very start his own congress. Democrats were salivating for years at the prospect of gaining power, and thanks to Republicans, who did everthing they could to do what Republicans shouldn’t, they got an iron-clad majority in Congress and the presidency. Democrats then created the plan, conducted the rehearsals to mess it up, And they did. Now it sucks to be them,,,

hobby

October 15th, 2010
1:28 pm

Nathan’s new slogan “I’m not as bad as Roy”…. and it’s working because it’s true!

FRANK C

October 15th, 2010
1:28 pm

WHEN YOU READ SOMETHING THAT IS AS FANTASY AS THIS ARTICLE – YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF – JUST HOW BAD IS THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM WITH LIBERAL COLUMISTS TODAY

Joe

October 15th, 2010
1:29 pm

I am baffled that this lady has a column. Is the South hurting for good writers?