Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?

by: DaveJ

Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 16:00

Is Obama's insistence on bipartisanship killing his presidency?

I submit that health care reform could fail and take the Obama Presidency with it, and that this may well be the result of attempting to appease Republicans who want only to destroy him.

Let's look at the record.  When Obama took office the country urgently needed sufficient stimulus to make up for the slack in demand from consumers and businesses.  But before even offering his plan Obama weakened it because he believed this would bring in Republican votes.  And then while the plan was going through Congress more and more actual stimulus was removed.  Then the stimulus didn't get a single Republican vote in the House, and only a couple in the Senate.  In the name of bipartisanship Obama gave up a good plan in exchange for nothing.  Now the economy is beginning to suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile the Republicans who Obama gave up so much to bring on board are working to destroy his administration with propaganda and lies about how the plan is failing, how the plan is part of a socialist conspiracy to ruin the country, etc.

DaveJ :: Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?
With health care Obama is again repeatedly offering up compromise in the name of bipartisanship while the Republicans are again working to destroy him and health care reform.  If he was giving things up in exchange for the promise of votes that is one thing, but there will be no Republican votes.  This is the big game now, and the Republicans have correctly stated that a failure of health care means the failure of this presidency.  So they are doing everything they can to kill health care reform.  They are telling every lie they can find, using every scare tactic in the book, calling him every name, and encouraging the worst in every nutcase out there.

Bipartisan must be a two-way street.  The assumption of bipartisanship on the part of the other side is a mistake when the other side has no intention of reciprocating.  It misjudges the changes that have occurred in the Republican party.

This political call for bipartisanship in understandable and politically astute.  The country longs for a return to the days when the parties could argue their positions with Senatorial camaraderie and reach compromises that incorporated the best ideas from both sides.  Politicians are smart to recognize this longing and appeal to it. But they are not smart to extend that wish into a belief that today's Republicans are willing to play along.

We have seen this before.  At the 2006 YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas a few bloggers were invited to a roundtable with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who was contemplating a run for President. With the "mainstream" press watching from the sidelines as if this was a football game, Marcy Wheeler and Natasha Chart tried to pin down Warner on his insistence that Iran was a problem while Pakistan was not.  (It turned out that Warner hadn't thought that much about Pakistan.)  

Then we asked about his instinct for bipartisanship.  "Hunter" from DailyKos asked Warner, "You said that in Virginia you got a lot done working across the aisle.  Do you think that is possible on a national level now?"  Warner answered that you can't "ram through transformational change in a 51-49 way, I don't think it 's going to get done. I may be naive on this, but I think there are still enough people of goodwill in the country and even in Congress.  You have to reach out and grab them."

I then pointed out that in 1993 as a party strategy the Republicans had decided to block Clinton's health care plan, even before any plan was decided on. Then I asked, "I think part of what Hunter's asking is, what if they don't?  What if, just like with Clinton's plan they decide they're just going to block whatever you do?"

Warner answered, "If you don't think there are enough people of goodwill willing to step up and do the right thing regardless of party, then I'm truly worried for the country."

I replied, "So are we.  That's why we're here.  The question is, what if they don't?  What's plan B?"

Warner didn't have a plan B.  He was going to just get bipartisanship because he was a nice guy who was willing to work with the other side.  This appears to be Obama's position as well.

This is recorded in Matt Bai's book, The Argument, pages 248-249.  In the book, Bai faults the bloggers for their attitude against working with Republicans, saying that we are uncompromising.  I love Matt, but he gets it fundamentally wrong here.  I, and I think most bloggers, long for a Republican party that can be worked with again, because the extremists that have taken over are harming the country and the world.

But when the other side is trying to destroy you, you just have to take that into account.  You don't give in, and then give in more, and then give in more, thinking they will change.  Why should they when you just keep giving them what they want?  We're certainly learning that in California.  Obama needs to learn that as well, before there is nothing left to give them.

That's what they are waiting for, and that's when they will make their move.

Here is my suggestion.  The next time a Republican circulates anything like the picture of Obama dressed with a bone in his nose, and claims that he is trying to make us all live under socialism, Obama should say, "That's enough" and "ram through" a health care plan that works for the people.  It will save his presidency.

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Obama's fundemental problem (0.00 / 0)
is the filibuster.  There are others, but the real issue is the need to get 60 votes.  He could be as partisan as hell and it would get him nowhere if he plays the game thinking he heeds 60 votes.

All along he has said on Healthcare he would use the budget process to avoid a filibuster.  A real bipartisan would not even bring that up as a threat.  

And using the Budget Process is his plan B on Healthcare.

Yes and no (0.00 / 0)
Bipartisanship is a major reason why he won, keep that in mind.

Had he gone head strong one way partisan fuck the Republicans fuck those who disagree, he wouldn't have gotten anywhere either.

The problem isn't Republicans anymore, it's the conservatives in general; Republicans and Democrats, who control the government, the media, and to an extend, the population too...people like bipartisanship, they don't like when it doesn't work, because if bipartisanship doesn't work, then what will?

Keep in mind, Republican favorbilities aren't rising even while Democratic favorabilities have fallen a bit...the people know the Republicans aren't playing fair, but they upset that Obama couldn't actually unite the country despite his attempts to.

Obama was elected under the delusions of grandeur that he can unite everyone and get things done...he can't, and that's not his fault. People don't vote because they think all it is is a Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative and no one wants to give an inch...and they're upset because that didn't change...any idiot could have predicted it wouldn't have...I applaud Obama for trying though.

Of Course (0.00 / 0)
Of course.  That's why I wrote, "This political call for bipartisanship in understandable and politically astute.  The country longs for a return to the days when the parties could argue their positions with Senatorial camaraderie and reach compromises that incorporated the best ideas from both sides.  Politicians are smart to recognize this longing and appeal to it."

But once in office you have to get things done and they have to work.  The Republicans are trying to block that.  Our most effective leaders have understood that sometimes you have to be feared or you are not respected and can't get things done.


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway? Twitter: dcjohnson

[ Parent ]
Well as far as I can tell (0.00 / 0)
Republicans aren't a big part of health care except on the Finance Committee...and even then, it's only three of them. The problem is moderate and conservative Democrats, which is always a problem for a majority...Bush often fought moderate/liberal Republicans...and if that failed, he would go after conservative Democrats.

It's also important to remember that many major pieces of legislation passed with bipartisan support...Civil Rights comes to mind. LGBT rights activists, for example, have one Republican in Congress speaking for them; Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. If Dede Scozzafava wins in NY-23, she should be the second.

The problem is we've defeated all the sensible Republicans.  

[ Parent ]
Those delusions of granduer... (4.00 / 1)
were created by Obama himself.  It helps show that with proper marketing it's possible to sell anything, even single payer if there is a will.  But there does not appear to be, only a will to allow the present stakeholders to continue their ways, under the guise of reform, while too many will again be left out in the scramble to profit from health care.

[ Parent ]
Bipartisanship? (4.00 / 1)
Anyone, still glossing the issue of health care reform (and other issues) in terms of bipartisanship, is part of the problem. Bipartisanship is just a pretext for the corporatists to hide under the Democratic rock. If Obama can't deal with this straight on, his presidency is over.

Turn the rock over! Americans need to see the truth about their "democracy."

[ Parent ]
You are assuming that Obama... (4.00 / 1)
is not also doing the bidding of the entrenched interests, as many of his decisions seem to support that interpretation.

One wonders why he does not push for Congress to even give any consideration for single payer?  Perhaps because a system where the insurers and other greedy stakeholders sign on to, in the name of reform, will solidify their hold on the process and create a "reform" where they continue to prosper.

Because single payer can't be deficit neutral (0.00 / 0)
and therefore can't pass?

Even single payer advocates admit single payer will cost the government more money, which, granted is acceptable because it would eventually save money...but not during this deficit.

On top of that, it wouldn't be popular...every poll I've seen shows that while people favor government healthcare, they don't favor being forced to use it...there's no way of doing single payer without forcing people to leave their current insurance...all you need to do is run ads saying "Government is going to spend $2 trillion and force you off your insurance!" and it would be dead.

I favor the amendment allowing states to consider single payer...I actually think the states are better equipped to do this than the feds, being that states are smaller and most have a more simplistic government system.  

[ Parent ]
Once this "reform" occurs... (0.00 / 0)
then the next real reform will be decades away.  It is not hard to educate people, or manipulate them.  In this case, one only need to manipulate them to see that saving money in the long run, while covering everyone, is in their interest, just as people in other developed countries have determined.

As for public opinion, this from February, 2009:

A New York Times/CBS News poll released last week shows, yet again, that the majority of Americans support national health insurance.

The poll, which compares answers to the same questions from 30 years ago, finds that, "59% [of Americans] say the government should provide national health insurance, including 49% who say such insurance should cover all medical problems."

Only 32% think that insurance should be left to private enterprise.

In my opinion, people are ready to spend money wisely, rather than give it to corrupt people, too many of which are Obama people as well.

[ Parent ]
Well change is incremental (0.00 / 0)
the best way to "manipulate" them is to first show them government-run healthcare isn't the devil and that's what we're trying to do.  

[ Parent ]
We disagree. (0.00 / 0)
Incremental change is delayed change.  Was there incremental change to bailout the banks and insurance companies?  Obama could have built a wave for single payer, but I think he shows his true allegiance and the fear of almost all politicians to cross the entrenched powers that greatly contribute to all of them getting elected.  The exceptions are rare, and I don't think he is proving to be one, in this and other instances.

[ Parent ]
Reality (4.00 / 1)
things only get done incrementally in this country...the only time we pushed radical change in our history, it caused a Civil War...and even then, it was incremental (Missouri Compromise was 45 years before the end of slavery)

The public ALWAYS balks at radical change, they respond to it incrementally.  

[ Parent ]
Again...we disagree (4.00 / 1)
Radical change occurred in the Second World War, when the country was transformed, in the Great Depression, when the role of government drastically changed, and in the 60's, with a mass of civil rights legislation.

Incremental change, in my view, is often used by those who do not really want change.  The have nots are always told that they have to wait and allow for incremental change.  I don't buy it.

Present times call for radical change on a number of fronts.  People are ready.  They see the reality much better than the politicians who cling to power and the status quo.  But manipulative forces spread disinformation and dysfunction.  Obama was supposed to lead us to a new way.  Or so he said.

You glossed over the NY Times poll which seems to contradict that the public would balk.  In my view, it is unwise to say anything ALWAYS occurs.  It generally means one is inaccurate right from the start with such blanket statements.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, That Was REAL Incrimental, All Right (4.00 / 2)
Which is just my polite way of saying you don't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about.

You're new here, so let me just explain that one of the site's co-founders, Mike Lux, is the author of a book, The Progressive Revolution, which explains in some detail that the reality is precisely the opposite of what you assert--change comes about episodically, in short bursts, as the result of strong progressive majorities.

You'd be well advised to buy the book and read it, before making more unsupportable statements like the ones you've made so far.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
uhh Paul (0.00 / 0)
how long did it take to get it, it took thirteen months to get through Congress; Kennedy introduced it in June, 1963 and it Johnson signed it in July, 1964 and it was preceded by watered down Civil Rights acts in the late '50's that eliminated Title III.

Not the mention it somewhat solved a problem that had plagued the country for 190 years, and still does, and come 100 years after the end of the Civil War.

On top of that the Civil Rights act of '64 was watered down as well, though not nearly as much as the earlier acts...

I would say civil rights did come incrementally.  

[ Parent ]
Well, In That Case (4.00 / 2)
Universal health care's been in the making for 60+ years already.

So let's pass the damn thing already!

[This message was approved by the Department of Absurd Redefinition of Terms.]

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Er ... (4.00 / 2)
"single payer" is not the same thing as "government health CARE".  It is the same thing as "government health INSURANCE".

In the first, doctors, nurses and other health professionals work for the government.  In the second, they don't.  Someone could argue that the it would be better if they DID work for the government, but there is nobody on the scene today making that argument.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
How many of "these people" will refuse their medicare? (0.00 / 0)
Your argument assumes they care a hill of beans about voters, which they don't.   They don't care how many people support or oppose anything.  They do as the monied interest and ruling elite order them to do because it is in their own self-interest.  

How much longer can people swallow the fairy tale?  "It's like making sausage"  - with dog meat and ecoli. The system has gone bad, and I don't see anything anywhere that is going to change that.    

[ Parent ]
Single payer? (0.00 / 0)
I think there is very, very little support among the public for "single payer."  There are a very, very few policy wonks who even know what the words mean.

If you ask the general public what they think about "single payer" they largely will think you are strange.  Someone I know very well, when I asked her, thought it meant that a single person has to pay for all their bills themselves, and said she would never support such a thing.

"Medicare-For-All" on the other hand, has widespread support.  It is extremely difficult to find anyone who doesn't like Medicare.

I wish someone was pushing for "Medicare-For-A;;" instead of whatever this weird "single-payer" thing is, so people didn't get scared away.


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway? Twitter: dcjohnson

[ Parent ]
Does not matter what you call it.... (0.00 / 0)
so long as it is national health insurance.

As the above poll indicates, the public has been for this for decades, consistently so.

Therefore, I think your contention is wrapped in semantics, not substance.

[ Parent ]
True, but the semantics are very important (0.00 / 0)
Right now the entire push for single-payer - excuse me, Medicare for All - is completely wrong.  MfA advocate use "single payer", some technocratic term that no one understands, and are blabbing on and on about how every other industrialized country in the world has it, so why shouldn't we?  By god, that is the worst argument you can make to some of our more xenophobic Americans who react with disgust at the mere mention of what some effete French snobs do.

Instead, the messaging should be this simple:

It's All-American.
Older Americans love it.
You will too.

[ Parent ]
I am sorry to say here (4.00 / 2)
but last I checked, I don't think the republicans are the problem.  the blame game can only go so far.  at some point, there has to be ownership of this process.  Democrats have control of the house and a fillabuster proff senate.  Regardless of what republicans say, they don't have to be involved in this process.  Democrats could vote and have this and whatever else they wanted like cap and trade and EFCA.  

The problem i believe is that Obama is not willing to commit this by himself.  I don't believe he has the full confidence of these bills and is not sure how they will end up.  I believe he wants bi-partisan support just in case its not well received or something goes south.  I don't believe he is 100% committed to what he's selling.  This is politics as usual.  

People versus the Plutocracy (0.00 / 0)
IMNSHO, the failure of Congress to move a health reform bill to closure expeditiously is due to the following:

1. The key decision-makers in Congress have sold their votes to private insurers and pharmaceuticals in exchange for campaign contributions.

2. Obama's playing politics again, in which his rhetoric and his actual stance are widely divergent.

As usual, he is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

He says one thing to the nation in his public pronouncements, and, presumably, another thing entirely in his many private meetings with the insurers and pharmaceuticals, Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans.

3. As long as lax campaign finance laws and gerrymandered "safe seats" put the influence-peddling Max Baucuses in key positions where they can decide what legislation will and will not go forward, irrespective of the popular will, the U.S. democracy will continue to be on hold.

Until we re-invent our subverted democracy, we will be governed by a plutocracy that does not care one whit that thousands of people die every die because they are underinsured or uninsured.

Nancy Bordier is the author of Re-Inventing Democracy The book can be read free online by clicking here.

A prototype website illustrating how the Interactive Voter Choice System works can be accessed at Citizens Winning Hands.

I concur (0.00 / 0)
But I suppose that is obvious.

Obama's rhetoric often does not match his actions.  The lack of transparency concerning his private meetings is rather striking.

[ Parent ]
Simple answers to simple questions (4.00 / 1)

umm (4.00 / 2)
"This is recorded in Matt Bai's book, The Argument, pages 248-249.  In the book, Bai faults the bloggers for their attitude against working with Republicans, saying that we are uncompromising.  I love Matt, but he gets it fundamentally wrong here."

Actually, Bai consistently doesn't understand bloggers or the blogosphere, despite it being his beat.  Probably because at heart he is a member of the village who believes in niceness, compromise and so on as core values rather than means to an end.

Yeah, and as we all know it's only a "core value" (0.00 / 0)
as it applies to maintaining and never (seriously or honestly) challenging the status quo, a.k.a. "Rankism", as Paul discussed last week. No such deference or politeness is afforded to the rest of us, who can all go hang as far as the Village is concerned.

So I guess my point is that what the Village claims to hold dear as a "core" value would more accurately be described as a "conditional" value.  

[ Parent ]
Starting off at compromised position is the problem. (4.00 / 1)
That is not bipartisanship.  Bipartisanship is being able to discuss positions in a respectful way and being able to negotiate in good faith with common goal to get something done.  The problem for President is that bipartisanship is the goal not getting something done.  That is why he seems to always start from a compromised position.

Bipartisanship is a two way street.  Just extending a hand or showing a willingness to listen to repugs is enough to reach that threshold of bipartisanship.  This would also constitute a "change" from the most recent past.  But it not necessary and absolutely weak to start from compromised positions.

RebelCapitalist - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

We've already had this argument before (0.00 / 0)
last year, and that's the reason that many on the left, myself included, voted for John Edwards, who loudly advocated the mow-them-down-if-necessary approach that we all want so badly now.  But our side lost and that's over with.

So what do we do now?  Simple.  Obama is planning on taking his campaign on the road and start speaking directly to the people.  He should have done that months ago.  That's the way you deal with uncooperative politicians - put their feet to the fire.

It's one thing when we're pushing a losing issue.  But the public option supposedly enjoys overwhelming support, even in some of the states that are supposedly "conservative" and are represented by the ConservaDems.  When politicians are uncooperative on issues that are very popular among their constituents, the obvious solution is to rally the people to put pressure on that politician to be cooperative.  And if s/he isn't, campaign against him/her in the next election and replace him/her with someone who is.

And the pressure can come from top-down as well.  If I were President, I would call in Max Baucus for a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office and tell him this: Drop the bipartisan bullshit and get a real public option passed, or else I'm gonna talk to every pharmaceutical and insurance company you suckle your campaign milk from and tell them to never write a check for you again.  I'll talk to every person in the Montana Democratic Party and tell them to never speak to you again.  I'm the fucking President and you're just some lame Senator from a backwater 3 electoral vote state that I almost won last year.  Obey me or die.

It can't be that hard, right?


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