Two interesting Op-Eds from recent days, theoretically from opposite ends of the political spectrum:
There was a Democratic president eager to move to the center. He floated certain ideas that would be normally unheard of from a Democrat. According to widespread reports, White House officials talked about raising the Medicare eligibility age, cutting Social Security by changing the inflation index, freezing domestic discretionary spending and offering to pre-empt the end of the Bush tax cuts in exchange for a broad tax-reform process.
The Democratic offers were slippery, and President Obama didn’t put them in writing.
BARACK OBAMA took office vowing to usher in a post-partisan era that would drain the toxic anger of the Bush years and focus the country on practical, long-overdue reforms. Like Bush, he was no doubt sincere in wanting to unite the country. Unlike Bush, he has governed in a manner largely consistent with that ideal. A lot of good it’s done him: Washington is more poisonous than ever. And as Congress courts disaster by threatening to default on the national debt, Obama must marvel at his plight. Practically a caricature of Spock-like rationality and sober caution, he’s presiding over a capital that has become completely unhinged.
Notice the similarity in message: Obama is the calm, rational, reasonable one, eager to put aside partisanship and work for the good of the nation. It’s those hyperpartisan thugs on the other side who are fighting him, doing all they can to ruin his administration, regardless of the cost to the country.
These two guys must live in a mirror universe, ‘cuz I don’t recall very much of what they cite. The President Obama I’ve seen is petty, vindictive, and arrogant as all hell. His idea of “bipartisan” is to say that people all across the political spectrum are welcome to join him, back his proposals, put flesh on his flimsy grand schemes, and talk about how wonderful he is.
Obama is the most partisan president I can remember (and my political “lifespan” goes back to the days of Jimmy Carter), and quite possibly the most partisan in history. Which should come as no great surprise, as he came out of the Chicago Democratic machine, and never had to face a strong, principled, conservative opposition. It’s simply beyond his comprehension.
This is where his aides are doing him no great service. They should be helping him through this “learning curve,” explaining that it’s not only possible, but probable that those who oppose him might do so based on principle, and might even have a few good points. That his opposition simply can’t be charmed and persuaded that they’re wrong and Obama’s right by his simply finding the magic words that will undo their long-held beliefs. That Obama is not the only one who has the nation’s best interests at heart, and that Obama does not necessarily have all the magical answers and solutions.
Sadly, I don’t think he has anyone in his inner circle who grasp that, either.