Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Nothing In Return

In April of 2012, Norman Ornstein of the Brookings Institution and Thomas Mann of the American Enterprise Institute wrote in their op-ed in The Washington Post

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

One year later almost to the day, two Washington Post reporters would contend

After more than four years in the White House and weeks into his latest effort to woo lawmakers, Obama still isn’t very good at using his personal charm to achieve political success. Yet, it may be one of the few strategies the president has left if he hopes to accomplish his remaining ­second-term priorities, including a sweeping budget deal and a comprehensive immigration bill.

Sure, Juliet Eilperin and Zachary A. Godfarb added "At this point in his presidency, Obama has pretty much tried it all."  But they seem unaware that the only reason Republicans are considering comprehensive immigration reform, and the only reason they may acquiesce in it, is because they believe Democrats wiped the floor with them in November due to the Hispanic vote.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, based on a framework laid out by the conservative Heritage Foundation,  passed the United States Congress, it did so with no GOP votes despite President Obama's fervent entreaties to Republicans.  In her recently released Fighting for Common Ground, former Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME.) explained that after she voted in he Senate Finance Committee to move the bill to the floor

The President also called me after the conclusion of the markup. He began by telling me, "A great statesperson once said, 'When history calls, history calls,'" and said I could make history by supporting health care reform when it's considered on the Senate floor. "You could be a modern day Joan of Arc," he offered. I laughed and replied, "Yes, but she was burned at the stake!" I added, "I don't mind taking the heat, but I have to believe it's the right policy for America." The President responded, "Don't worry, I'll be there with a fire hose!" 

The President was persistent.   Snowe noted "In the course of the health care debate, I met with the President at least eight times in addition to more than a dozen phone calls. He had made this rigorous outreach effort because he was seeking a bipartisan partner who he recognized cared about the issue as well."

Snowe's health care reform tactics are a case study in the futility of this President attempting to appease the GOP.  Shortly before Mann and Ornstein weighed in on Repub obstructionism, Alex Pareene observed that the Maine senator

intentionally delayed the process for months before finally voting against a plan she’d previously voted for, never making a single substantive criticism of the policy of the bill in the fear that her criticism would then be addressed by Democrats and she’d be forced to come up with a new reason to oppose the bill, because it turns out she didn’t actually want to vote for healthcare reform, and she would not have supported any plan to expand coverage to all Americans, no matter how it worked.

Addressing the issue with a joke last weekend at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, President Obama admitted "I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”   But of course he'll keep trying, doing all he can to get Republicans to agree to legislation tailored for the conservative, anti-government party he panders to.

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