Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hitting One's Head Against A Brick Wall

Well, that kind of settles it.

It's one thing for the loyal opposition to vote unanimously, or nearly so, against health care reform, financial reform, loans for small businesses, and bringing jobs from abroad to the United States. It's another thing entirely for these guys to tell the President they're not cooperating.

First, Mitch McConnell tells the National Journal "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Then, Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, told Hugh Hewitt "Look, there will be no compromise on stopping runaway spending, deficits and debt. There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare. There will be no compromise on stopping Democrats from growing government and raising taxes. And if I haven’t been clear enough yet, let me say again: No compromise." Finally, Minority Leader John Boehner told Sean Hannity "This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles."

As for President Obama's resolve? Describing the President's interview on Wednesday with radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, the Associated Press' Darlene Superville wrote

"It's very hard to figure out from the Republicans what exactly that agenda would be," the president said in the telephone interview with Smerconish, who also writes an op-ed column for The Inquirer.

Asked how he would govern for the next two years should control of the House shift, Obama said he expected that Republicans, should they "be in a position to hopefully take more responsibility working with us, are going to say to themselves that it's important for us to show some accomplishments over the next couple of years."

He cited infrastructure improvement and potential reduction of the national debt and federal deficit as the kinds of subjects on which "I think we could get bipartisan support."

The President promoted his theme of bipartisanship a second time yesterday, telling a group of liberal bloggers

But I don’t go into the next two years assuming that there’s just going to be gridlock. We’re going to keep on working to make sure that we can get as much done as possible because folks are hurting out there. What they’re looking for is help on jobs, help on keeping their homes, help on sending their kids to college. And if I can find ways for us to work with Republicans to advance those issues, then that’s going to be my priority.

He even seized the opportunity to find bipartisanship in the incident in Kentucky(video below) in which activist was stomped upon by a Rand Paul supporter. The President did his "both sides are to blame" gig, remarking

Well, look, I think that one of the things that I’ve always tried to promote is civility in politics. I think we can disagree vigorously without being disagreeable. And what we saw on the video was an example of people’s passions just getting out of hand in ways that are disturbing.

In fairness, I don’t expect every candidate to be responsible for every single supporter’s actions, but I do think that all of us have an obligation to set a tone where we say the other side is -- may be wrong but it’s not evil, because when you start going down that path of demonizing folks, then these kinds of incidents are more likely to occur. And my expectation in the remainder of this campaign is that all candidates out there are a little more careful about making sure that they’re framing the debate around issues and sending a clear message to their supporters that our democracy works when we disagree, we debate, we argue, it gets contentious, but that there are certain lines we don’t cross.

Perhaps the President expects to go before the electorate in 2012 and say "look, I tried; they didnt'." But over the course of the past two years, it has been obvious to anyone looking that one side is willing to compromise while the other is determined to oppose anything proposed by that side. And the fellows who have chosen obstructionism over compromise are winning. If Barack Obama wants merely to embolden the opposition, he's going about it the right way. But if he seeks to be viewed as a man of principle and strength, he needs to change his tone and his course and become a Democrat.

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