After a day or so of wide-ranging praise for the Lecturer-in-Chief following his performance at the GOP retreat on Friday, the theme driving the news cycle has become one of “engagement.” Headlines like, “Obama Engages,” or “Obama Continues Policy Outreach to GOP” have proliferated. But this is not new.
In fact, Obama’s first year is the story of relentless, futile attempts at bipartisanship. The President has repeatedly reached across the aisle and allowed Republican influence on bills only to see the GOP vote in unison against that bill. The effect of these efforts has been that the President not only ends up with watered-down bill (see, e.g., the Stimulus Package) but he ends up simultaneously throwing away political capital and angering his base. It has been, quite simply, a year of Lucy and the Football.
Yet, there seems to be something different here. Since the State of the Union, and including last week’s Q and A session with the GOP, the President has aggressively communicated his efforts at bipartisanship. Rather than being victimized by his constant, quixotic attempts to invite Republicans into the tent only to have them burn the tent down, he’s put the GOP on its heels. He has made it clear, vocally and repeatedly over the last week, that the door is open to the Republicans, that they can come in, but they’re going to have to compromise. He is doing his very best to convert the Grand Old Party into the Grand Obstructionist Party. For this, I applaud the President.
Rather than castigating himself on the altar of bipartisanship, the President is going to make the Republican Party pay the price, politically, for their nihilism. The President should keep up his vocal, aggressive challenge to the GOP that they participate in government. Good on ye, Mr. President.
Now, go pass Healthcare.