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

Wink Martindale

October 15th, 2010
2:07 pm

You wish. George Will can take anyone to the woodshed and he does it calmly, politely, logically and with graciousness. But when he is finished his opponents or fellow debaters are left standing with covered in their own poo poo.

SaraB

October 15th, 2010
2:07 pm

What planet is Ms. Tucker on? While the National Mall was still buried under garbage from the inauguration, Obama invited GOP leaders to the White House for their input on policy. When they offered suggestions that conflicted with his Progressive agenda, Obama cut them off with a curt “I won.” He clearly had no intention of giving their ideas the slightest consideration.

After November 2, “I won” will meet with “So did we!” Then we’ll see who’s sitting in the catbird seat.

Booger Sandwich

October 15th, 2010
2:09 pm

As I understand the Liberal party is now turning to Michael Dukakis for political advice. LMAO!!

Sad, pitiful and hilarious.

FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real

October 15th, 2010
2:13 pm

You are dead on correct Cynthia!!

Obama’s obsession of negotiating (down) all the major legislation with the GOP has caused much angst with his base and progressives. The GOP fear and hate mongers love to shout from the rafters about how “far left” Obama has moved. Nothing is further from the truth. Anyone who has been paying attention realizes this President is closer to a moderate at best.

Most common-sense observers also recognize he’s had to jump through some major hoops just to get support from the likes of Joe Lieberman and other morally repugnant Dems conflicted by special interest money.

I do hope the President can see that his efforts to constantly “make nice” with the morally bankrupt, obtuse, obstructionist GOP, are in vain. Those efforts coupled with the Dem leaderships’ inability to control messaging has rendered the party much weaker than it should be. This, in my opinion, is why the left is so very frustrated.

Joey

October 15th, 2010
2:14 pm

Man this chick is on Crack!!! LOL….how does she have a job?!?! Riddle me that one Batman!!! LOL…This is rich!

George W

October 15th, 2010
2:14 pm

FEAR ——what planet are you living on?

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
2:14 pm

You wish.

No, I’m ecstatic that I am not the douche-bag George Will.

Uncle Fester

October 15th, 2010
2:15 pm

FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real

October 15th, 2010
2:13 pm

LOL…What are you talking about. Obama is extreme left. Oh I see just trying to make yourself feel better/licking your wouunds so to speak. Ok but keep in mind that doesnt excuse Obama and his failed policies/ideas.

Tray

October 15th, 2010
2:16 pm

Any time Obama tried to meet with the GOP on a middle ground all he was looking for was the ability to say ‘Republican Support’. That’s it, he could care less about what they really wanted, he just needed a few to tout in front of everyone…lame president. Rush was right, what a jackss…

JTHC75

October 15th, 2010
2:17 pm

What planet are you on?

What person told the GOP “Get out of the way” and “I won”? It’s amazing how you Democrats have bought into the notion that Obama has been so open and conciliatory while the Republicans have been a party of No since day one.

Matt

October 15th, 2010
2:18 pm

Cynthia, I believe Obama could beat someone’s kids and you would still get up the next morning and defend his actions and blame the Republicans. So why should I believe your pathetic reporting and analysis? This is just more rubbish from a subpar journalist. You are an example of why I do not support the ailing AJC.

Joey

October 15th, 2010
2:19 pm

Ms. Tucker why would Obamapont want to play nice with the Republicans. Doesn’t the Democrats OWN everything?!?! LOL..come on now!!! LOL…..

George W

October 15th, 2010
2:19 pm

JTHC75….so what is your point?

T4U

October 15th, 2010
2:20 pm

Hilarious. How long have you been living in that alternate universe, Ms. Tucker?

Mark from Ohio

October 15th, 2010
2:21 pm

Ma’am. You are wonderful writer. Satire of this level of sophistication is rarely seen any- what? You’re serious? …….Wow. That’s even funnier.

Seriously, your view of reality is completely and utterly warped and wrong. Down is up, up is down. I’m seriously questioning how someone can be so amazingly wrong about something so obvious and still be able to handle ordinary life.

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
2:22 pm

Obama is extreme left.

There’s your sign.

DavisJohn

October 15th, 2010
2:25 pm

Maybe this whole article is sarcasm. That’s the only way it makes any sense. Seriously, is there any better example of a partisan leader than Obama?

Cynthia, bipartisan means that you actually try to work with the other side instead of just attacking, vilifying and excluding them. I guess maybe you thought bipartisan means to be twice as partisan.

DavisJohn

October 15th, 2010
2:27 pm

I guess Cynthia did get one thing right in her article…Obama has been a dismal failure.

Mike

October 15th, 2010
2:29 pm

Cynthia,

Are you paid by the number of blog posts these days?

Otherwise, I just can’t figure out why you would throw this crap out…other than commissions.

Tech Man

October 15th, 2010
2:31 pm

ConservaTarian
October 15th, 2010
2:24 pm

Now that is disgusting, I don’t care who you are.

RD

October 15th, 2010
2:31 pm

Oh this is just too rich. Ms. Tucker must have missed all of the news conferences and political stump speeches where Barry blasts all Republicans. So you can say the most horrid things about an enormous group of people that you say you NEED to help you and then when they don’t you act surprised. I have no idea who is more brain dead, Barry O or Ms. Tucker. Perhaps both?

Mark from Ohio

October 15th, 2010
2:31 pm

Now I understand! This was meant for theonion.com and inadvertently posted here. Right? Right? I mean, that has to be the only explanation….

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
2:35 pm

Now I understand!

Um…no,

It’s painfully obvious that you don’t.

Post Modern

October 15th, 2010
2:37 pm

In 2008, we were told repeatedly by the Obama campaign that “change” was good, regardless of what that “change” actually implied. Well here we are two years later, and we are about to see another big “change” with this mid-term election in a few days.

You liberals always hate it when your own sophomoric platitudes are used back against you, so please enjoy the following dose of your own medicine:

Cynthia Tucker, I believe you are just afraid of change.

Uncle Fester

October 15th, 2010
2:38 pm

Its ok Dems. Yawl go home, have some cough medicine and take a nap. Just be sure to stock up as I understand Granddaddy Longlegs wants to ban cough medicine to protect The Children!!

Uncle Fester

October 15th, 2010
2:38 pm

Its ok Dems. Yawl go home, have some cough medicine and take a nap. Just be sure to stock up as I understand Granddaddy Longlegs wants to ban cough medicine to protect The Children!!

Amazed

October 15th, 2010
2:40 pm

Awesome! Thanks for the laugh. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.

Mugsy

October 15th, 2010
2:40 pm

Ms. Tucker clearly realizes it is all but over. So rage, rage against the dying of the light.

granny godzilla

October 15th, 2010
2:41 pm

Kam

It’s the miracle of the loaves and the fishes with
republicans and conservatives!

A miracle I tell you….hundreds of new reactionary radical righties….
and most of them either call our hostess the same couple of names, talking about their AJC subscriptions…..all in one day.

Buck1

October 15th, 2010
2:41 pm

OMG. In what political universe has CT been lost the last two years? Only, ONLY a sadly obsessed Obama worshiper could have come up with this premise. I feel sorry for her. It’s only going to get worse for her.

George W

October 15th, 2010
2:42 pm

Granny…you really should not get involved in this conversation.

MattW

October 15th, 2010
2:43 pm

Cynthia Thomas proves yet again, what an ignoramus she is. What happended to “I won the election!”, and “You can’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and expect to get things done.” O, but you can follow the Marxist rule book, and expect everyone to jump on board. I DON’T THINK SO!! Our only HOPE is for more gridlock, what a nice CHANGE it would be if nothing DID get done! (For once!) V.T.A.O.!

Mike McBride

October 15th, 2010
2:44 pm

Cynthia,

You are living proof that allowing people into college without having mastered the most basic of education requirements can turn out drivel that cannot be explained on any level.

Amazed

October 15th, 2010
2:44 pm

I think the Republicans could take some cues from Mr. Obama’s incredible example of bipartisan leadership: “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.”

Mugsy

October 15th, 2010
2:44 pm

So let’s get this straight – the “smartest” President ever was essentially outmaneuvered by the party that had a substantial minority when he took office. Is that what you are saying, CT?

Barbara

October 15th, 2010
2:45 pm

Tucker has let her partisan hatred take her over the edge to delusional mumbling. Maybe this is what passes for thought in her limited circles of like minded automotons.

TIme for her handlers at Cox to throw the switch and take her out.

Mark from Ohio

October 15th, 2010
2:45 pm

Kamchak, what do I not understand? If the article is not meant as satire, then the only other explanation is that Ms. Tucker suffers from serious disconnect from reality.

Doug

October 15th, 2010
2:45 pm

Every time I read a Cynthia column I’m convinced she is moving planet by planet to the outer reaches of the solar system. She has clearly stopped for gas on Neptune while writing this one. How any reasonable person can take her writings with any degree of seriousness is beyond me.

granny godzilla

October 15th, 2010
2:46 pm

george w

oh?

George W

October 15th, 2010
2:47 pm

I am out of here. Enjoy your weekend. Remember November elections are coming up. I can’t wait to see what the Demoncrats are saying on this blog the day after the elections.

Mugsy

October 15th, 2010
2:50 pm

CT’s article broken down into its essence – Obama is too dumb to be President.

barking frog

October 15th, 2010
2:52 pm

The President has his loyal followers, Unfortunately none are
in Congress.

ConservaTarian

October 15th, 2010
2:53 pm

Tech Man…
Someone grabbed my screen name and entered that rude comment about the couch and 69. It was not me. I promise. I was not even on the computer when that comment was posted.

I may vehemently disagree with you, but I do not engage in personal attacks, especially one so obscene as that one.

Bubba Leroy

October 15th, 2010
2:53 pm

Obama did not work with Republicans and the reason was pretty simple: he had a super majority in the Senate (until Scott Brown) and a huge majority in the House, there was not need for Republicans.

As such, everything that was “accomplished” is owned exclusively by Obama and the Democrats. Never has entitlement legislation, let alone the size and scope of Obamacare, been passed along with NO bipartisan support. The bipartisanship was with the opposition. Obama’s response to reaching out to the Repulicans? “I won.”

The only way the Republicans should cooperate with Obama is to undo everything that was done by the Congress and President. If Obama does not cooperate, help the public to understand that the Obama agenda represents generational theft and a future of National decline…unless we start reversing course now.

Randy Chatman

October 15th, 2010
2:53 pm

One of Obama’s greatest political weaknesses has been his stubborn — and unrequited — love for bipartisanship.

“I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking,” he told the crowd. “I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.”

Ms. Tucker, you have absolutely no credibility.

harry

October 15th, 2010
2:53 pm

Is Cynthia a WaterGirl for Obama?

ConservaTarian

October 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

There’s obviously someone screwing around with the comment system. I’m out of here.

lakelevel

October 15th, 2010
2:56 pm

Hey KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT,

put quotes around “Bush blames Clinton” and you only get 896 results but “Obama blames Bush” gets you 161,000 hits. Learn how to use google. Or are you one of those Soros paid commenters and being deliberately misleading?

That’s what

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
2:56 pm

Granny Godzilla

I’m beginning to think that these are Drudge trolls. JB’s got five pages of strangers also.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kamchak, what do I not understand? If the article is not meant as satire, then the only other explanation is that Ms. Tucker suffers from serious disconnect from reality.

Markie-poo—That binary mindset that you’ve been trained in (if it’s not X then it can only be Y) will hold you back.

Your choice though.

Mojo Risin

October 15th, 2010
2:56 pm

In what country, on what planet must Cynthia Tucker be corresponding from, about things she won’t admit to. Remember, Obama won and he revealed he wasn’t going to compromise. He had the majorities in both houses and his mind was made-up. There was not a scintilla of desire to work with the republicans, NONE!!! Cynthia Tucker, you are a fabulist committing journalistic malpractice…