Last night, I went to set up the VCR to record “24″ (I know, I live in the stone age) and caught the last few minutes of President Obama’s press conference.
Thanks to the wonders of the amazing internet workers, I was able to find a YouTube clip of the segment I saw.
NPR’s Mara Liasson asked the President what he learned from the stimulus bill process. Knowing that he will need true bi-partisan support – not just 3 Republicans in the Senate, none in the House – for meaningful reforms to health care, energy, and entitlement programs, what does he think he will need to do to get bi-partisan support?
First, he blames Republicans for this highly partisan bill.
“Old habits are hard to break.”
“People want to test the limits of what they can get.”
“…positioning for the next election.”
Then, he claims that Republicans were brought in and consulted. (They were, but they were also ignored and told, “I won,” by the President.)
The money quote, the line that is the very quintessence of Obama’s attitude toward bipartisanship, comes at about 2:07.
Let me set it up. He says that when the Republicans were brought in they liked the tax cuts that were in there and those tax cuts are still in there. Apparently, that is what he considers “bipartisan” – when the other party doesn’t hate everything in the bill your party wrote.
Then he says,
“I suppose what I could have done was started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and let them take credit for all of them. Maybe that’s the lesson I learned.”
That’s what he has learned about how to create a bipartisan solution to tough problems? Leave out things he wants that the Republicans would like, then put them in to make them think he was actually listening to them and taking their concerns – and the concerns of those who elected them – seriously?
But to get these important things done that Liasson asked about, it’s only the Republicans who need to “break out of ideological rigidity.” Yeah, okay.
I have no problem with President Obama and the Democrats using their power to do what they want to do, without consideration for bipartisanship. They won the election. It’s their prerogative.
What I do have a problem with is this pretense of bipartisanship. The continued claims that this is a bipartisan effort, if only the Republicans would stop playing political games.
This is not a bipartisan bill. It was written by the Democrats and contains Democratic spending priorities. Even the tax cuts are limited to the ones that the Democrats wanted.
If President Obama really believes that this bill is the right thing to do for the economy, then he should have no problem taking full ownership of it.
At least when President Bush did something without deference to bipartisanship, he would admit that and accept the responsibility that comes with making a tough decision.
I really never thought I would miss the Decider as much as I do.
Ed Morrissey has more on the press conference, with the two lies and misunderstanding/rewriting of history therein.