Obama should compromise, too
We miss Barack Obama, circa 2004. Back [auth] then he aspired to unite, not divide.
“We are one people,” he proclaimed, making a star turn at his party’s national convention. “All of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes. All of us defending the United States of America.”
The Barack Obama who won re-election last month is a far more bracing political figure. He seems to see America in the starkest of terms: “Us” versus “them.” The poor and middle class versus the rich who refuse to pay “their fair share.” Democrat versus Republican.
That mindset appears to inform the president’s approach to negotiations on Capitol Hill to find a detour around the so-called fiscal cliff that perilously awaits with the start of the new year. Rather than bargain in good faith with Republican leaders on taxes and spending, Obama has struck a position of no compromise.
It’s the same recalcitrance Obama evinced following his election of four years ago. In a meeting with GOP leaders three days after his inauguration, the new president lectured that “elections have consequences,” reminding the Republicans, “I won.”
With that, Obama pushed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Democratic-controlled Congress, with no Republican votes in the House and a mere three in the Senate.
He next rammed through Congress the Patient Protection Act and Affordable Care Act of 2010, with absolutely no Republican votes, ensuring the enmity of the loyal opposition.
With his re-election, President Obama had the opportunity to press the reset button on his stormy relationship with the party of Boehner and McConnell — the party that controls the House. And a perfect opening presented itself with negotiations on the fiscal cliff.
Regrettably, Obama appears to have fallen back to his default position of 2009 and 2010. That is: to give no quarter to Republicans in legislative negotiations; to resign himself to political gridlock, rather than work toward bipartisan compromise.
To be sure, Republicans bear some of the blame. They have not only disagreed with the president on matters of public policy, they often have been disagreeable in the extreme.
Indeed, we have longed for at least one Republican, neither maverick nor renegade, who would place statesmanship ahead of partisanship.
Someone who would channel the spirit of Bob Dole, who won his party’s presidential nomination in 1996, who said of President Bill Clinton (whom Republicans found as abhorrent then as they find Obama now), “He is my opponent, not my enemy.”
We hope to see such grace on the part of Republicans when the new Congress takes office in January. That cannot happen as long as Obama treats Republicans on Capitol Hill as if they are, at most, a necessary evil.
We’d like to see the return of the 2004 Obama, to see him use his rhetorical gifts, his political acumen and his personal charm to find common ground with Republicans on legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff.
The Orange County Register