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


October 15th, 2010
4:14 pm

Tucker is providing comic relief today. Obama didn’t take every opportunity to pin the econimc hardship on his predecessor? How many speeches do we have to replay for her where Obama says he “inherited” the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. How many times do we have to hear about republicans “driving the car into the ditch”? That’s part of his problem, Cynthia. He says it so much that nobody believes him. They think he’s making excuses for his ineptitude. Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans blame Obama for the economic mess. Only 47% now blame Bush. He’s owns this mess. The sooner he starts to take responsibility for his bumbling, the sooner he might recover some credibility and some approval ratings.


October 15th, 2010
4:19 pm

I am a straight man and I am married with three wonderful children.
But if you are ever in the Vinings area on a weeknight and you want to have the best gay man love experience of your life, get in touch with me. I mean it. I will curl your toes.


October 15th, 2010
4:21 pm

George W…. I am forced to watch Fox News way too much so I just keep repeating and repeating and repeating

You Can't Be Serious

October 15th, 2010
4:23 pm

Obama: “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking.” “I won.” Ah, yes, the man virtually oozes bipartisanship. Obama’s idea of bipartisanship: vote for what I want, and if you don’t, you’re “the party of No”, obstructionists, opposed to progress.

Likewise, while the GOP repeatedly offered constructive alternatives to the Dems’ initiatives, they were repeatedly rebuffed, and they were offered nearly no voice in drafting any of the significant legislation.

One last fact: the Tea Party is not fueling the anger. In fact, there really ISN’T any anger. Americans have taken a good long look at the governance of the Dems and decided they want no more of this madness.

Cynthia, you are completely deluded.


October 15th, 2010
4:24 pm

The headline of this article? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha……………..Ha Ha Ha !

ck hall

October 15th, 2010
4:26 pm


The Stogs

October 15th, 2010
4:28 pm

Ms. Tucker. I hope this is a weak attempt at satire. Never mind, I’ve seen this garbage before. Blame Bush for everything, especially the economic mess — forgetting, of course, it’s Congress, not the president, that conjures up these foolish budgets and expenditures. Bush was shackled with a Democrat-controlled Congress his final two years. You won’t hear that from the left. You won’t hear the left or Bubba Clinton mentioning that it was a Republican leaning Congress that balanced those budgets, even though Bubba still beats his chest, taking credit.

You mentioned the environmental crisis obscured Obama’s work on the economy. That’s pretty obvious, since he’s done nothing about the economy other than take care of special interest groups with his acclaimed bail outs. If you happen to have a hint of information on his accomplishments with the economy, please share it. No one noticed.

You claim tax cuts are a Republican solution for everything. They worked in the past. Tax cuts coupled with massive reductions in government spending form a reasonable solution that Obama and gang would never consider. Rather than cutting government spending, the clan of clowns simply spend their time looking for new/different ways of generating more income through taxes. But expect special deals for special interests. We saw that with health care…the un-stimulus scam and others.


October 15th, 2010
4:30 pm

I never once heard George Bush, make any comments on health care, while millions of children have none, Thanks President Obama it care someone that cares about people to take on the real problems.

Most of these idiots conservertives will never understand till they lose their job and their kid have no coverage.

President Obama cares for middle class America, trailor will never understand this, once Rep take back office most these hicks will be crying the blues and Obama will get relected because you have no one to beat him.

Chris Sanchez

October 15th, 2010
4:31 pm

Ms Tucker,

With all due respect, you just don’t get it! There is a fundamental difference in the way each of our political parties sees America and the people in power are slanted in the direction of the more extreme positions of their respective party. In the middle are the voters who are sick and tired of a bunch of out of touch politicians who can’t manage to balance the country’s check book and seemingly care more about staying in office than they do solving serious problems. Instead they focus on using the public purse to buy votes and finding special interests to support their money-hungry re-election campaigns.

Many of us believe the government is far too large and intrusive in the lives of the average person. Notice that Democrats are not the only pols who have already lost primary races! We the people want change but the brand Obama has brought to Washington is not what most people, including many who voted for him, had in mind.

Jimmy C.

October 15th, 2010
4:32 pm

” Republicans paint President Obama as an unyielding left-winger, an unreconstructed liberal who refuses to compromise.” ?

You gotta live in an alternate universe! Didn’t you hear B.O.s response when he held a “listening” dialog with Republican leaders last year (just a TV dog and pony show actually)? You know, the meeting where B.O. listened for a few minutes and then said, “We won!”, effectively meaning I’m gonna do things my way and you guys can get along or shut up. NO, you really don’t remember that? Ah well,… okay, you are a brilliant liberal/progressive so I’m not really surprised. But I do.


October 15th, 2010
4:36 pm

YOU CANT BE SERIOUS: 18 mos of office compared to 8 years of hell, 5 milllion jobs lost under Bush, over 4,1000 soldiers dead, 5,000 dead in Ny under Bush, Wall Street collaps, Auto Collaps and President Obama should fix this in 18 mos, this has nothing to do with his policies this is plain common sense.


October 15th, 2010
4:43 pm

Chris, good post.

“Many of us believe the government is far too large and intrusive in the lives of the average person.”

I would add one thing.

“As is the case with corporations, as evidenced by the fact that nearly three in four Americans now believe that they have too much control in this country and over their own lives.”

Which explains why the percentage of those who now trust CEOs of large companies is comparable to Bush’s approval rating when he left office – around 20%…


October 15th, 2010
4:47 pm

LOL, I at first thought this article was a joke…

So you think Obama works too hard to be bipartisan? Wow, you are truly delusional.

The fact is that the Republicans oppose Obama because of his big government takeover of nearly all facets of American’s daily lives, and its clearly obvious that the American people back them up given the indications of the polls of the upcoming election.

Obama and the Democratic controlled Congress are an utter failure, and the American people will cast their vote to this soon enough.

Besides, Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress. If he was proposing legislation that the entire Democratic party wanted, he could have passed anything he wanted.

Your article FAILS.


October 15th, 2010
4:49 pm

Hi Stands…I hear you at 3:41…it is thier world we just live here:)


October 15th, 2010
4:50 pm

It’s not April 1st, so I’m assuming Tucker meant this seriously. People paying attention, however, know it to be false.

The real mistake which underlies all of Obama’s frustrations with Republicans was his inability in the early days of the Stimulus work to get control of his OWN PARTY. It was not Obama but Pelosi and Reid who refused to work with Republicans. At every opportunity. A new day had come, and Democrats had mistaken the people’s affection for a popular president with a carte blanche endorsement of Congress as well.

Hence we got a near trillion dollar bill filled with Democratic ‘wish list’ spending pent up over the previous decade. It was out of control with earmarks – a practice our President had told us not three months earlier he would end.

In the end his own party ran over Obama like a train. It continued through the healtcare debacle, during which Pelosi completely ignored Republicans in the house – plenty of evidence around the web to support it.

Obama may have welcomed Republican support, but Pelosi and Reid certainly did not. And in a couple of weeks they will pay the price. If Obama wanted more Republicans on board, he needed to get his own party to back him!

Buster Collins

October 15th, 2010
4:55 pm

Pultizer’s for political commentary don’t mean anything. Neither does Cynthia Tucker.


October 15th, 2010
4:59 pm

“I won” “I’m not interested in the input form the ‘people who got us here’”. Republicans were locked out of the planning for the bills, and were not asked for input on amendments to the bills … and now you’re complaining that you tried too hard to be bipartisan?

The Democrats at the time had a filibuster-proof majority and needed 0 republicans; the time and effort was trying to get the Democrats on board as they’d ostracized the Republicans to the point where they couldn’t get support from any of them.

That wasn’t an accident or a problem; that was the plan from the beginning by all appearances. It couldn’t have been less bipartisan if they’d tried.

On a personal note, I’m a bit concerned. Exactly what medication are you on? It appears to be affecting your memory adversely; I’d recommend seeing a physician to have your dosage changed; and then re-read reports of what really happened in the past so you can report on events that actually occurred instead of bizarre fantastical views from a world that doesn’t exist.


October 15th, 2010
5:00 pm

Seriously???? This entire article is a joke. The so called main stream press will stop at nothing to defend this excuse of a president. This man was never and is not qualified to be the President of the United States and Ms. Tucker, you are a laughing stock for making excuses for him. He and his party have willingly done great harm to the economy of this country and it is going to be a long time before we recover from his ideology.


October 15th, 2010
5:09 pm

This editorial is a slanted rewrite of recent history. The Republicans blocked legislation and prolonged legislative battles? Give me a break. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid had to bully and bribe members of their own party to pass the legislation. The legislation is so bad that even Obama isn’t touting it. Instead, he’s continuing the blame game, with his newest targets being the Chamber of Commerce and Rove.


October 15th, 2010
5:13 pm

Excellent assessment. You can’t cooperate with Republican Fascists. Obama has learned that the hard way.


October 15th, 2010
5:13 pm

Axelrod, as usual, is spot on:

“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.’ “

Martin Lucas

October 15th, 2010
5:18 pm

The Republican loudmouths are out in force. Stop shouting and take responsibility for the atrocious mess you created. W and Hoover will go down in history together . . .


October 15th, 2010
5:21 pm

One looks in vain for any intelligence, insight, or decency in the remarks of these Republican posters.


October 15th, 2010
5:36 pm

Cynthia certainly has a different slant on things. The Republicans may be the party of “no” but the Democrats are the party of “my way or the highway”. This effort to work across the aisles must have been in secret because I sure didn’t see it. Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t know compromise if it slapped her up side the head.


October 15th, 2010
5:39 pm

When reading the comments from the right, I come away feeling that our Country is in a head of trouble. The right has elected to use its influence in the congress to produce failure at any cost. Yes, Obama reached out to them throughout the HC debate only to run into a game of bait-and-switch. So, PERHAPS the D’s will lose the congress but don’t expect any of the right’s agenda to see the light of day. These nuts sat idly by as Bush ruined the country and now they want to reclaim power and finish the job. They had no problem as Bush and his crowd bankrupted the country. The structural deficits created by that bunch will outlast Obama as well the next POTUS as well. Where were these RIGHT WING NUTS when Bush set out on his destructive path. More frustrating is the fact that this bunch has offered no policies or prescriptions that will lead to a balanced budget. Our only hope is that the democrats survive and have 6 additional years in power to get the republican mess straightened out. Republicans only proposal is to cut taxes on the wealthy and waging needless wars. Oh, I forgot the “take back our country” rants that emanate from this bunch.

fox news hater

October 15th, 2010
5:48 pm

republicans would rather see the country fall into bankruptcy rather than get behind a highly intelligent,articulate,man like our president of these united states ..PRESIDENT BARRACK OBAMA..ITS A shame they would rather be republicans than americans and work for the good of the country..a country that they made a mess of economic wise in the last 8 yrs..this country will fall behind even further behind europe and other countries until it start to work for the good of all americans and not just the 2% wealthy..and to my fellow white americans i hope you one day wake up and relize how much republicans despise you unless your worth millions like them..republicans care about 2 groups ..the very wealthy and large corporations that continue to f$$$k america by shippin jobs overseas..this white male loves america and supports my president (mr president barack obama)150% and wants himto do well and america bounces back…think things are bad now??you havent seen anything till the party of no!!(republicans get in office)with thier selfish,greedy mean spirted ,racist A$$!!yeah i said it!!


October 15th, 2010
5:48 pm

I’m sorry, I must have misread your byline. Nope, I just checked again, and you really did write that “Obama tried too hard to work with Republicans.” Are you off your meds?!?!?!?

Obama’s idea of working with Republicans was to expect them to go along with whatever he dictated. He excluded all Republicans from meetings about his health care plan for months. No sane person would call that “trying too hard to work with Republicans!”

Rusty Shackleford

October 15th, 2010
5:49 pm

What? Are you serious? Keep feeding the stereotypes lady…

Doktur Phil

October 15th, 2010
5:51 pm

Cynthia, you are hopeless!


October 15th, 2010
5:53 pm

In reviewing all of the comments posted I would dare say that you have angered the voters in the next election. I wonder if O is going to thank you for all of your help.


October 15th, 2010
5:56 pm

Cynthia, you must be a really serious journalist. Could please name a single Republican idea or proposal that was included in so-called health reform legislation? So, much for trying hard… It is also advisable for a serious journalist like you to expose logical fallacies of their sources, especially if your source is David Axelrod.. In law school this is known as a Socratic method.

Buford T. Justice

October 15th, 2010
5:59 pm

Those who shout the loudest and carry the most signs do NOT win the war. There is a huge silent majority in this country who will surprise everyone on 11/2. The economy is recovering; slowly but is recovering. The economic mess created by 2 unnecessary wars along w/ unregulated wall street and banking industries takes more than 2 years to fix. The Glenn Beck followers and Tea party fools will be drinking Kool-aid on 11/3 after they get blown out at the polls.

Look, I'm Cynthia Tucker!

October 15th, 2010
6:01 pm

TPS teacher who watched Obama sign bill is laid off
Board not using $7.6M
As Toledo Public Schools teacher Amanda VanNess stood in the Oval Office and watched President Obama sign an education stimulus bill, she already knew she’d lost her teaching job back home to budget cuts and low seniority.

Another great example of Obamaeconomics. It’s those darn republicans who Obama tried to convince to support the stimulus but, noooo they just would not support him and now look. The darn thing has not done a thing to help our economy and Obama can’t blame the repubs for supporting it. TUCKER YOU ARE A HACK. Cut and pasting is so much fun.

Look, I'm Cynthia Tucker!

October 15th, 2010
6:03 pm

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to talk about a pending arms treaty with Russia and other issues .

Wow, you just knew sooner or later he would have to call in people with more experience then being a community organizer.

Look, I'm Cynthia Tucker!

October 15th, 2010
6:10 pm

Buford T. Justice

October 15th, 2010
5:59 pm
Those who shout the loudest and carry the most signs do NOT win the war. There is a huge silent majority in this country who will surprise everyone on 11/2. The economy is recovering; slowly but is recovering. The economic mess created by 2 unnecessary wars along w/ unregulated wall street and banking industries takes more than 2 years to fix. The Glenn Beck followers and Tea party fools will be drinking Kool-aid on 11/3 after they get blown out at the polls.

Buford, as the saying goes, you don’t know your butt from a hole in the ground. The fact that you think the economy is growing makes you the leading moron of the day. Enjoy 11/2 libtard.

Captain Kirk

October 15th, 2010
6:14 pm

Ms. Tucker,

In what dimension do you reside? Beam me up, Scotty!


October 15th, 2010
6:16 pm

Did Cynthia Tucker write this or Cynthia McKinney? Who cares. They’re both posers in industries that are embarrassed by their presence. The interloper that wrote the article basically says, “had you people gone along with this Socialism “my president” would be more popular now.

I agree. He would have been more popular in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Not sure about Antarctica.

Grob Hahn

October 15th, 2010
6:19 pm

Geez Cynthia how much is the ransom? We’ll pay it, only please don’t let them keep forcing you to write this stuff. Have they been forcing you to take roofies? Surely the republicans aren’t so shallow as to judge Obama harshly in his clear respect and adoration for them. And just look at the progress Obama has made in bringing a post-racial era to America. A-freakin-mazing. Seriously though, we’ll take up a collection for the ransom so we won’t have to endure these confusing and obviously coerced words.


October 15th, 2010
6:21 pm

So it’s true. Democrats are stupid, and Republicans are evil. I was correct all along!!!

Vote Libertarian!!!


October 15th, 2010
6:31 pm

Thank goodness I don’t even have to read this article to start laughing out loud.


October 15th, 2010
6:32 pm

Cynthia – Obama had all the votes in both houses – all the crap that is happening is to be put at his feet – along with all the progressive – liberal – democrats. NO your political party has put this country into more debt in 18 months than President Ronald Regan incurred his entire 8 years and the 4 years of President Bush – so run to the mirror – you and yours are at fault. Republicans offered suggestions and were ignored – you need to get with the real world.

Jim Tower

October 15th, 2010
6:35 pm

Wow, Cynthia – you’re high.


October 15th, 2010
6:37 pm

Her looney statements are exactly why I turn off programs that include her as part of
the commentary staff. We no longer watch NBC or its subsidiaries, we no longer
watch David Letterman,the view, John Cusac, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Lopez or any
of the other half baked celebs who think they know more than anyone else. The
only way to bring reason to these idiots is to not support their work, When 70%
of the population disagrees with them, that should result in a 70% drop in their

Jack Patterson

October 15th, 2010
6:37 pm

Cynthia must have been dropped on her head as an infant. Obama has control of both houses but can’t get things done. He and his party are to blame for thier problems. Name one thing republicans contributed to the health care bill…


October 15th, 2010
6:38 pm

You are kidding, right?

Sid Farcas

October 15th, 2010
6:39 pm

People, you can stop posting remarks to Tucker, she is at her 6:00 New Black Panther meeting and then heads over to Cynthia McKinney’s house for their “get the dead person vote out” meeting for the upcoming election. After that they discuss how evil white people are and drink until they can’t see.


October 15th, 2010
6:40 pm

Just how stupid do you think we are? The President’s response from “Day One” (as hi likes to say) has been “I won, you lost. I do not have to consider anything you have to offer.” That has been true of every piece of legislation signed into law by this administration. Maybe you should get you news from someone other than David Axelrod.

Small Biz

October 15th, 2010
6:47 pm

Misplaced faith in logic? Give me break. You must first be logical and if not, you’ll fall for anything and continue to waste MY money.


October 15th, 2010
6:48 pm

Huh? Is that why he said on day 3 after his inaguaration ‘ I won’ to the republicans and then left them out of any debate, while he was behind closed doors of every single peice of legislation? Have you left the planet? sheeesh, the lies people tell….

Buford T. Justice

October 15th, 2010
6:51 pm

Wow, Look I’m Cynthia Tucker. Ok, I’ll bite;You must be an unemployed republican I’ll guess. Oh don’t tell me, next you’ll wow me with all your degrees and how you own your house and you’re a business owner getting screwed..right? Doesn’t matter how loud you scream or name call, that man in the WH got handed the biggest pile of sh^&%##t for an economy since the word was invented. And yes,W and Dicky boy ARE responsible for it; it happened on their watch. You all are so fixated on making sure you’re called patriots and church goers and not socialists.. Like immature children, when faced with a truth you don’t want to admit, your type get angry and begin to name call those you do not agree with. I can’t tell you how many “republicans” I’ve met who are actually closet democrats, like yourself. It’s ok; I’ve seen it before.