During the 2008 presidential campaign–as he did in his speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention which secured his celebrity, Barack Obama presented himself as a new kind of politician who could transcend political divisions and and bring together a badly polarized nation.
Since his inauguration, however, he has passed up many opportunities to do as he promised. On that very day, he could have chastised those who booed his predecessor, saying something like, “While we may disagree with his policies, we should respect the office that he once occupied and that I now occupy. And let us appreciate also the devotion he has shown to the country we all love.” Or some such.
Three days later, he bypassed another chance to rise above the fray.
When he met with congressional leaders that Friday, “top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package” (AKA the “stimulus”), echoing concerns (e.g, in the third debate when he said, “we’ve been living beyond our means“) he made on the campaign trail, he snapped back, “I won.” Had he said, “I see your point,” he would have showed that he intended to fulfill the promise of his campaign, proven himself to be a unifier, rhetorically at least. And what if he had floated a compromise idea, offering to retain only the “stimulus” spending that would be dispersed in the following six months.
Then, he could add, while I think the whole package is necessary, let’s see if this helps. If this doesn’t jump start the economy, then — and only then — we can consider another injection of federal cash.
This way, instead of signing on to a plan crafted in the back rooms of congressional Democrats, he would have shown himself as willing to respond to Republican concerns; he migh have forced a few Republicans to cross over and support the proposal. Not just that, he would have had a ready-made excuse should we not see the promised decline in unemployment. “We didn’t spend enough,” he could have said.
But, he (and congressional Democrats) got everything they wanted. Like his predecessor, Obama lost a chance to stand up to a spendthrift Congress.
Well, he’s still kowtowing to that Congress:
Pelosi and other House leaders told senior White House aides at a recent closed-door meeting that they felt the president was spending too much time bashing Washington without pointing the finger of blame at Republicans – a rhetorical nuance they argued could backfire by provoking voter anger at the party in charge in Congress.
On Thursday night, there was no confusing Obama’s belief that Republicans aren’t doing their part to solve the nation’s problems.
Here’s the president at the fundraiser with Pelosi,Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and other senior Democrats: “You would have thought at a time of historic crisis that Republican leaders would have been more willing to help us find a way out of this mess — particularly since they created the mess … [W]e got our mops and brooms out, we’re cleaning stuff out, and they’re just sitting there saying, ‘Hold the broom better, that’s not how you mop.’ Don’t tell me how to mop. Pick up a mop!”
Seems the president is more interested in currying favor with Nancy Pelosi than he is in fulfilling the promise of his campaign.