Saturday, January 30, 2010

McCain smirks: Barack Obama discovers bipartisanship 

This morning, while sitting in Starbucks plinking away at an enormous backlog of emails, I half-listened to the full video of Barack Obama's meeting with the House Republican caucus. It is worth your time, if for no other reason than to see that -- Massachusetts and Virginia and New Jersey notwithstanding -- the Republicans really have not yet quite figured out how to sound more thoughtful and deliberative than the president, who has a real talent for sounding like the most reasonable guy on Mother Earth.

Anyway, after a very productive day of work and chores I have repaired for an hour or two to the bar in Princeton's delightful Witherspoon Grill, where I am quaffing Stone IPA and reading the very entertaining even if Obamaphilic Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. (A beer and a book (and a book light!) alone in a quiet bar. Can it get any better? I submit that it cannot.) Imagine my delight to stumble across this passage, which casts President Obama's plea for bipartisanship in a slightly different, er, light:

Neither [Obama nor McCain] had any inclination to turn the election into another bitterly polarized knife fight. Both boasted of being ready and able to lead a more civil and constructive conversation.

There was one minor hitch with this rosy scenario, however. McCain and Obama didn't like each other. Not even a little bit.

Their very first entanglement had ended in a fit of unusually public acrimony. It was in February 2006, when McCain asked Obama to collaborate with him on ethics reform. McCain had always kept an eye peeled for young turks who shared his propensity for bucking the system, and he didn't care if they happened to be Democrats. As a freshman congressman in the early eighties, McCain had been taken under the wing of Democrat Mo Udall, the legendary Arizona representative who was the liberal conscience of the House and a ringing voice for reform. The Udall precedent was on McCain's mind when he reached out to Russ Feingold, the novice Wisconsin Democratic senator who became his partner on campaign-finance reform. [Editor's note: Bwahahaha!] And it was what drove McCain to approach Obama, the designated Democratic captain on ethics.

Obama indicated an interest in working with McCain on a bipartisan initiative. But after attending a meeting of a McCain-led splinter group, Obama backed away, neglecting to call the Arizonan to let him know, instead sending a formal letter on February 2 announcing that he intended to push the Democratic version of ethics legislation -- a letter that was released to the press before it reached McCain.

McCain felt that he had extended his hand and Obama had slapped his face....(emphasis added)

So, watch Barack Obama's call for bipartisanship with that history firmly in mind.


By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Jan 30, 07:51:00 PM:

He had all year to talk to Republicans. The only reaon he did so now was because, thanks to Scott Brown and Rasmussen....he had to.

I say again...his pledge of transparency is clearly fulfilled.

Any fool can see through him.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 30, 09:42:00 PM:

You have a point regarding his ability to give the impression that he is being reasonable (even as he hand waives away opposing arguments).

However, what I think is lost on a great many of the political commentators out there is that, as the previous commenter said, he was there because he no longer has a super majority. And despite the praise he got from the media, I can't imagine that this fact was lost on any of the higher ups in the House or Senate.

This actually reminds me of a quote from Yes, Prime Minister:

Jim Hacker: "So they insult me and then expect me to give them more money?"
Sir Humphrey: "Yes, I must say it's a rather undignified posture. But it is what artists always do: crawling towards the government on their knees, shaking their fists."
Jim Hacker: "Beating me over the head with their begging bowls."  

By Anonymous Blacque Jacques Shellacque, at Sun Jan 31, 02:33:00 AM:

"McCain felt that he had extended his hand and Obama had slapped his face...."

I wonder if Mr "Maverick" learned anything from this experience? (other than trying again)  

By Blogger kreiz1, at Sun Jan 31, 10:56:00 AM:

Being thoughtful and reasonable are Obama's strong suits. His tendency to defer to others, especially Congressional leadership, has been his weakness, cutting against his thoughtful persona. GOP Housers expected to run over him, especially after his hapless past week. Didn't happen- reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Sun Jan 31, 12:44:00 PM:

Stating that he is thoughtful and reasonable are Obama's strong suits. His tendency to defer to others in areas where he has no preferences has been one of his weaknesses, along with his unwillingness to compromise on his tightly-held Big-Government core issues. Democrat Housers have run over him like a steamroller when they have been getting what he wants, and quietly ignored him when their wishes do not mesh. Republican Housers this week expected to perhaps be able to work with him to accomplish things both parties agree on, but it didn't happen. Reports of his political demise are about 2.5 years early.

Fixed it for ya.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sun Jan 31, 02:08:00 PM:

Thank you,Georgefelis.

Bipartisan is as bipartisan does, and while Obama at times may talk a good bipartisan game, his record in the US Senate was anything but bipartisan. In 2007 Obama had the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Sheldon Whitehouse and Biden were second and third, respectively. Judging from Sheldon Whitehouse’s recent speech on the health reform bill, when in discussing opposition to the health care bill he alluded to Kristalnacht and lynchings, Sheldon Whitehouse doesn’t have a bipartisan bone in his body. And he was more bipartisan than Obama in 2007!

On occasion Obama talks a good game on tort reform when he was at the national level. He did vote to cap awards when a state legislator.
When asked for examples of when he has broken with the Democratic Party to reach across the aisle, Obama cites legal reform. "When I voted for a tort reform measure that was fiercely opposed by the trial lawyers, I got attacked pretty hard from the left," he said.

Obama spoke to the AMA several months ago. From Politico: Selling out doctors to pay off trial lawyers.
In a recent speech before the American Medical Association, even President Obama said that doctors shouldn’t “feel like they are constantly looking over their shoulder for fear of lawsuits.” The president recognized that defensive medicine is “a real issue” but there is nothing in the bill to protect physicians from frivolous lawsuits. And, there is nothing in the bill to help stop defensive medicine.

Tort reform is a bipartisan issue. Republicans are for it.

Recall what Howard Dean said about tort reform.
“This is the answer from a doctor and a politician. Here’s why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put in it, the more enemies you make, right? And the reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on. And that is the plain and simple truth.”

If Obama really wanted tort reform in the bill, a measure that would win overwhelming support form Republicans, he would have done something about it. Bipartisan is as bipartisan does. Obama wants to take on Fox News, the Supreme Court, the banks, Wall Street (while accepting massive campaign donations from Wall Street), but he doesn’t want to take on the trial lawyers.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Mon Feb 01, 10:11:00 PM:

Obama will never "take on" the Trial Lawyers, just as he will never tske on the unions, the anti-war movement, the envronment hucksters, the race baiters or any of the other passengers in the Clown Car known as the far left.

That's because he is one of them.  

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