For Obama, "Bipartisanship"="My Way"

Posted: Feb 10, 2010 12:46 PM
Mark Knoller acknowledges the obvious: "Obama Says Bipartisanship, But What He Wants is GOP Surrender."

Even so, Knoller goes on to insist that this characteristic isn't exclusive to Obama, but rather, is something every President manifests.

Perhaps there's a similarity in kind, but Obama's insistence on "his way" is unparallelled among modern presidents (perhaps in part due to his party having enjoyed a larger congressional majority than other recent presidents).  After all, among the examples Knoller offers are President Bush I's disastrous tax-raising in 1990 (done against the wishes of Newt Gingrich and all Republican conservatives), and Bill Clinton's 1993 appeals.  He could have included President Bush II's willingness to work with Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug benefit -- neither of which won him any plaudits among his party's base.

There's a world of difference between those kinds of substantive compromises and the "bipartisanship in talk only" that President Obama has so far offered.

As I've noted before, part of the problem for President Obama is that he has no experience with confronting the need to make substantive compromises with anyone to his right.  Before, words alone were enough to create a reputation for bipartisanship.  Now, things are different for him, and so far, he shows few signs of being able to adapt.  In fact, he's even lost the verbal civility that won him his reputation for "bipartisanship" in the far-left precincts he frequented in the past.

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