Suzanne Fields

Barack Obama is beginning to sound just a wee bit frantic for a man who has been president of the United States for a little more than a fortnight. A month from now, who knows? He got his stimulus package through the Senate, but it was a partisan victory. But for two women and Arlen Specter, always reliable Democratic allies in a partisan showdown, he got no help from the Republicans.

The withdrawal of Judd Gregg as his commerce secretary further demonstrates the empty promise of changing the way Washington works. His performance at his first press conference earlier this week was remarkable for the tone of his remarks. This was no longer the man who told us through the summer and fall that proper manners and good faith would be enough to dissolve partisanship in Washington, that the grinding wheels of government would roll happily ever after with never a howl of pain or a squeak of triumphalism

His kind words for Republicans have become the scolding of an affronted president, the offered hand a partisan fist. He had picked Republicans for his Cabinet, had gone up to Capitol Hill to visit Republicans in their lair, even invited some of them to the White House, and they responded with "the usual political games."

"I suppose what I could have done was to start out with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them." He pulled up scorn and poured it on. "When I hear from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history," he said. "I inherited the deficit that we have right now, and the economic crisis that we have right now."

The new president is learning that it takes more "charm" to pacify Washington than any one man has -- even the man some call "the Dali Bama." He sounds incredulous that some of the Republicans are playing politics, forgetting that politics is what congressmen play, that it's the media's job to egg them on. He might as well rebuke linebackers for making quarterbacks miserable.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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