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

Alicia

October 15th, 2010
2:57 pm

Of all the columns of CT that I have read, this is the most laughable. Lord, my sides are killing me.

[...] “Obama Tried too Hard to work with Republicans” is the title of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed by Cynthia Tucker.  It contains such idiocy that I simply need to share it with you. 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. [...]

Obama-Girl

October 15th, 2010
2:59 pm

After all my prancing and sign carrying for Obama I too am disappointed in his dismal performance. My new slogan…NOBAMA.

Jonathan Schultz

October 15th, 2010
3:01 pm

Man you liberals are ignorant. He loves bipartisanship? hahahahaha thats why he locked republicans out of meetings for the healthcare? Or that all his decisions have been so far left he is mimicking socialism? I cannot believe they let someone so stupid write an article!!!!!!!!!!!! Everybody is biast and able to have their own opinion but not their own facts and bipartisan he is NOT!!!!!

Andy

October 15th, 2010
3:01 pm

Even the most skilled opthamalogist could not cure the extreme myopia of the republican party.

HDB

October 15th, 2010
3:01 pm

Have a good weekend, all!! OUTTA HERE!!

Chew Gin Swan

October 15th, 2010
3:02 pm

Obama hab duhtee wandwee all time. He bwing in duhtee din he no wan to pay. Din he bwing no tikkee an say “I Pwezdent an shood hab a fwee servuhs” I tell him “No Tikkee no Wandwee” an he git mad, wok ow an swam dor. I say “You no come back again tomahwoh”.

Chew Gin Swan

October 15th, 2010
3:04 pm

By HD. You no come back again tomahwoh!

2by4

October 15th, 2010
3:07 pm

To thoses that cannot think for themselves check this and then go and read the story
Before meeting with Obama, Rice says mistakes were made in Iraq. oh really!!!!!!!

Secondly all the builders in Georgia that were saying hey lets build here lets build there how many of them employed legal citizens because a citizen would have asked for 16 to 20 dollars an hr. In order for them to maximize their profits, no they they turned a blind eye hired illegal workers for 8 dollars an hr, housing market was booming then reality set in, builders people were way over their head these builders bought million dollar boats and parked them on Lake lanier( million dollar boat on a lake man made). Now they are being foreclosed on, the bank will not get its money and some banks collasped. Borrowing to their friends and political friends. Fast fwd banks are in crisis oh those illegal workers are the cause and its Obama fault. Not one of those that really caused this snowball effect has been targeted by either conservatives or the TEA party I wonder why.?

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
3:10 pm

…hahahahaha thats why he locked republicans out of meetings for the healthcare?

Ya know, after a thousand or so comments, many with this particular phrase I think it’s time to ask: Did your panties get all atwist over Cheney’s secret energy meetings?

2by4

October 15th, 2010
3:12 pm

@Mugsy your the mug that is why you are called mugsy he is too dumb really his law degree was given to him, he went to one of the best schools in the US he is dumb.
georgie boy was really clever.

jack matlin

October 15th, 2010
3:12 pm

Ms. Tucker must be smoking some “wacky tobacco”. Obama never wanted to work with Republicans because after the election, he told them, I won! She needs to be honest with her readers and herself and not be the propaganda arm of the liberal party, like the folks at MSNBC.

It is these falsehoods that drive independent voters like myself to a party that won’t lie to the rest of the country. Here’s an idea, quit and work full time for the Democratic party

Sam H

October 15th, 2010
3:14 pm

Ha Ha Ha – HA HA HA – This column of one of the biggest JOKES of the year! HA HA HA

Gen. Buck Turgidson

October 15th, 2010
3:14 pm

If the pols and their hacks blow any more smoke up my a**, my sphincter’s gonna have to sue Phillip Morris!

Cue the Doomsday Machine, Dr., I’m headin’ for the mine!

FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real

October 15th, 2010
3:17 pm

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

Granny – I think the cloven-hoofed trickster has his hand in this one :)

Miner 21

October 15th, 2010
3:19 pm

@Cynthia, I think his mistake was his mistaken belief in thinking that they were serious people who were concerned with making the country as a whole better. Instead what President Obama from these individuals Death Panels, Birth Certificates, “You Lie”, fox/RNC, glen beck, secret holds for Nobel Prize winners, a senate where everything goes to die, blue dog democrats and other assorted clownish acts. The actions of the opposition reminds me of Chicago during the first term of Harold Washington as Mayor. The other side also mistakenly believed that if they just refused to do anything constructive that they would be rewarded.

Booger Presley

October 15th, 2010
3:20 pm

Well its been a lively debate filled with logic and much information (except for the Dems side), however, I must declare The Republicans won yet again.

Better luck next time Dems, have a great weekend cuz Im OUTA HERE.

william of the people

October 15th, 2010
3:20 pm

It must be O’s great reach of bipartisanship that excluded Republicans from debate, locking them out of committees, and deeming passed some of the monstrosities of these first 20 months of his Administration. What do these libs smoke before they write this drivle. And how little do they think of our powers of observation? Beam me up Scottie

Amazed

October 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

OMG! Someone other than our approved list of groupthink commenters are posting here! Quick — avert your eyes lest they be burned by the differing opinions.

Mike

October 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

We are going to neuter Obama, and we might just impeach him. Then in 2012 we are going to remove him.

MIke

October 15th, 2010
3:26 pm

Wow. Cynthia, what were you smoking when you wrote this crap? Yeah okay, Mr. Obama brought in Rahm Emanuel to help the president develop a bipartisan relationship with the Republicans. Wha? Nope, he brought in Emanuel to get all those crazy Democrats in line so the president could move his agenda forward over Republican opposition. Organizing Democrats is like herding cats. It ain’t easy! OMG! Now, the President is going to have to do something he has never really tried to do, work with Republicans. If he meets the other party halfway, he might get re-elected and will be remembered overall as a good president (see Reagan and Clinton presidential histories). If he continues the in-your-face approach, he will have only one term. Then he can go hang out with Jimmy Carter.

Amazed

October 15th, 2010
3:26 pm

Yikes. “Someone… are posting here?” I’d like to think a Preview button would have saved me from that blunder, but that’s probably wishful thinking.

Kamchak

October 15th, 2010
3:27 pm

…have a great weekend cuz Im OUTA HERE.

Now that Turd Lemonade and his sock-puppets have departed, I see a precipitous drop in the number of comments

Jesse Jackson has a scheme for you......

October 15th, 2010
3:27 pm

“Obama didn’t take every possible opportunity to pin the economic mess on his predecessor.”

That’s bullcrap and you know it Cynthia. It says a lot about you that you can tell such a bold face lie like that.

You are truly an idiot Cynthia.

Cynthia Is Sexy!!

October 15th, 2010
3:29 pm

Regardless of the outcomes its 3:29 and Cynthia is still sexy!!

Trey

October 15th, 2010
3:34 pm

How and the HELL is this lady a Pulitzer Prize winner? Are you serious? Everything is the Republicans fault. I believe the Republicans offered a provision in the ObamaCare bill that stated that members of Congress would receive Medicaid as their health insurance? Ironically it didn’t get into the bill. Hmm..I wonder why. I thought gov’t run health care was the greatest thing ever!

PaidByTheWord

October 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

It has come to my attention that most of your “opinions” lately are basically excerpts from other people’s commentary with your comments threading others’ words together. Now that you have written the whole Op Ed piece yourself, it is now obvious why you don’t do it regularly: you are totally out of touch with reality; drunk on Obama Kool Aid.

So much so, after scanning several pages, nobody has come to your defense, or posted any notes of agreement.

Are you paid by the word, no matter who originally wrote the words?

joe schmooga

October 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

Another award for consistency, Cynthia; you’re purposely obtuse and delusional as usual.

I now know why you chose “opinion journalism” as opposed to sportswriting. In sportswriting, it’s nearly impossible to report scores to be other than what they are.

stands for decibels

October 15th, 2010
3:41 pm

I continue to be amazed at the vacuum so many right-wingers seem to live in.

You guys have never, ever, encountered the idea from someone to your left, that Obama has been too conciliatory?

FYI, this is more or less what virtually every left-of-center commenter has been saying for about a year, in one way or another.

And you’ve never heard this before? It strikes you as utterly crazy, out of the mainstream?

Harold

October 15th, 2010
3:42 pm

You are right Cynthia Obama should just steam roll his agenda through the democratic congress. Why does he continue to blame republicans saying they’re blocking his legislation? Why does he resort to the theather of the absurd? Could he be looking for cover knowing that once hope & change is implemented he and his party will suffer the backlash from voters? Just thought I’d ask.

Mike

October 15th, 2010
3:42 pm

MIke:
You seem hot. Wanna go somewhere private? I have some lube and some recent photos of Justin Beiber.

Barry

October 15th, 2010
3:45 pm

CT Keep up the good work! Drop by next time in town for some ” stratigizin’ ” with the Ax and me.

freak4life

October 15th, 2010
3:46 pm

Our ewe reely dis stewped Cynthia oar dew ewe tink wee our stewped enuff two beleeve ewe ?

Randy Chatman

October 15th, 2010
3:47 pm

Kamchak, we will be visiting serious electoral devastation upon the Democrat party in just 17 short days. I’ll be thinking of you as our sparkling election results come in (on Fox News).

Democrats – don’t go away mad. Just go away. Bye bye now.

Harold

October 15th, 2010
3:48 pm

One question. I used to work for the government local. Everyone has great health insurance. I asked one of my former colleagues who was championing government health care, why didn’t he go to the county hospital since it was run by the government. You should have seen the look on his face.

Harry Callahan

October 15th, 2010
3:52 pm

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the AJC reports that this year’s federal budget deficit will hit $1.3 trillion, and continue growing from there…

“The administration is projecting that the deficit for the 2011 budget year, which began on Oct. 1, will climb to $1.4 trillion. Over the next decade, it will total $8.47 trillion. Deficits of that size will constrain the administration’s agenda over the next two years and will certainly be an issue in the 2012 presidential race.”

…and yet, curiously, after blaming Bush’s deficits (laughably small compared to Oblunder’s deficits) on “tax cuts that went only to the wealthy,” Democrats have now reversed course, admitted that there WAS substantial tax relief to the middle class under the Bush legislation, and further more, we need to extend those cuts in order to keep the economy going.

Fortunately for Democrats, their core constituency is plenty stupid enough to buy the notion that Bush’s tax policy wrecked the economy , but the exact same tax policy is now necesssary to save the economy.

We should not, however, be surprised at this level of stupidity from Democrat voters, given that Bush was bashed for eight years for running huge deficits and squandering the so-called “Clinton surpluses,” but now these same constituents are perfectly willing to be spoon-fed the notion that Obama’s deficits, on a scale never before seen or even imagined, represent sound economic policy.

Harold

October 15th, 2010
3:56 pm

Since I’m into story telling mode regarding the beleagured democrats, I have another ancedotal story to tell. In fact its almost a joke. A friend of mine vegan,leftist, plus government worker was telling me that governmnet should tell people what to eat! He’s tired of paying for people with health problems because of a high fat unhealthy diet. I said how are you paying for people unhealthy lifestyle? Remember he worked for the government.

Sean Hannity

October 15th, 2010
3:57 pm

You know, Ms. Tucker, I think you are exactly right! and furthermore, I think this is why George W. Bush ultimately failed to get his message across…he was way too conciliatory towards Democrats! High-five girl, great minds think alike!!!

Harry Callahan

October 15th, 2010
3:58 pm

Harold, you silly goose…liberals think they’re paying for everything…even the ones who don’t pay any taxes…because all money ultimately belongs to government anyway!!! Get a clue, you loser!!!

Obama's Hamster

October 15th, 2010
4:00 pm

Why the heck did I just find Kamchak’s nose right here, 18 inches up Barack’s backside?

MWalters

October 15th, 2010
4:01 pm

Billybob

October 15th, 2010
4:01 pm

Kamchak 3:10
Change the subject, where did that idea come from….hmmm….let me guess….LIB 101….easy

whamprod

October 15th, 2010
4:02 pm

Bipartisanship? Hippie, please! Democrats’ idea of bipartisanship has always been: “Do it OUR way or take a hike!” Smart Republicans know better than to play that game…. ….and most Republicans are that smart. REAL bipartisanship means you arrive at compromises, a little bit to satisfy everybody. But no, the Pelosi-led Dems are so smug in their certainty, and so resistant to making the kind of compromises that would get Republicans signed on, that Republicans, naturally and wisely, reject it. If Democrats are going to lead us off a cliff without allowing any Republican compromises to mitigate the negative impacts of their folly, then let them lead on…. …and crash and burn. But don’t ask Republicans to endorse foolishness. We’re not that dumb.

Maybelle

October 15th, 2010
4:05 pm

Cynthia Tucker finally tipped over the edge. The question is whether this opinion piece is a momentary disconnection from reality or if it is a long term psychotic break. Tucker’s mental prognosis aside, it made for a good laugh on a Friday afternoon.

Rebecca Hall

October 15th, 2010
4:05 pm

When I read your opinion piece, I thought to myself, “That’s what I thought about President Bush!” I felt that he tried to out-democrat the Democrats in an effort to “get along”. The medicare prescription drug plan comes to mind. Many times I was angry at Bush for not being conservative enough. So, I guess when “your” guy is in power, you think he is making all the bipartisan efforts, and I guess it depends where you stand on the pendulum of politics. I happen to believe B.O. has NOT made much effort to combine Republican ideas–he may have listened to a few ideas in a committee meeting so that he could be seen on TV listening but did not incorporate them (I’m thinking about the health care plan here).

what?

October 15th, 2010
4:09 pm

Analysis like this is what got the US and the Dems into so much trouble.

Tiger

October 15th, 2010
4:09 pm

Obamacare was a good example of “bi partisanship”. Obama and his leadership jammed THE MOST LIBERAL bill they could get passed through both houses planning to buy off a few votes at the margin and that is exactly what happened. Remember the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisana Purchase? Remember the pressure on Bart Stupak? There was absolutely no compromise, no consultation with the Republicans except for looking for one or two votes at the margin. The obamacrats figured out what they could jam through with the votes they had and did it. They just did not expect people to remember come November.

Gryphon

October 15th, 2010
4:09 pm

Somebody has been smokin something. I looked at the title of this article and did a double take. I cant believe that anyone in America could actually believe such a load of crap. Obama has not even asked the opinion of Republicans. He invited them to his little health care farce in the White House, but told them on national television, that he won so it didnt matter what they said. Cynthia, you need to put down the pipe and rejoin humanity.

Arthur

October 15th, 2010
4:10 pm

Is this article a transcript from your shrinks couch? Up the medication Cynthia.

REX

October 15th, 2010
4:12 pm

Why do you think they call it DOPE? Get off the DOPE Cynthia!