Well, That Was Dumb
President Obama has been trying to obtain bipartisan support and cover for his agenda, so what does he decide to do before his first weekend in office? Bully the Republicans into doing things his way or else.
First, he told the Republicans meeting with him to listen to him, not Rush Limbaugh. "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." Sure, that's a great idea: call out a man with 15 hours a week with a microphone. It's also telling Republicans that they have to do things his way if they want to accomplish anything. And how will that work?
"In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: 'I won,' according to aides briefed on the meeting.
'I will trump you on that.'"
So apparently bipartisanship means doing things President Obama's way and, if they don't like it, too bad because he won the election. And he says this the first week before he's fully gauged his actual strength in the back-and-forth institional struggle between the legislative and executive branches? And he puts it in such crass, bald terms that make it to the public AND tick off the most prominent megaphone on the other side? I thought this man was supposed to be smart.
Here's what he's just given his opponents the green light to do: to walk around for the next six weeks with this confused/regretful pose saying things like, "banks are failing, and we're solving it by spending millions of dollars on contraceptives and grass for the Mall and after-school snacks? We're afraid we don't understand, and we don't know how to explain that to the American people. Maybe you can?" Since he's already signaled that he doesn't need them to pass what he wants--he won, after all--they can position themselves NOW to consistently point out the flaws and abuses in the bill--not in an attempt to get what they want (because they've already been told how that works) but for purely political purposes to knock some of the shine off the president. A party-line vote on his first major action won't look quite so hopey and changey.
Given the Republicans' recent political instincts, there's no guarantee that they'll follow this path. But it's a dumb move on President Obama's part to try to set the rules of the game like this so fast. Now the Republicans can play a different game if they decline the be the fig leap he clearly wants them to be.
There's a new sheriff in town, and he just shot himself in the foot.