Monday, September 12, 2011

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Has Obama Awoken From "Bipartisan Fantasies"?

On issue after issue, President Obama has pre-emptively caved without getting anything in return. He seemed to think that the Republicans would appreciate his reasonableness and compromise, forgetting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) main goal: to make him a one-term president. Obama, however, took steps in the right direction by presenting a forceful jobs speech and campaigning in GOP areas for it. E.J. Dionne Jr. (left) hopes that Obama has finally learned just how extreme today’s Republicans are–and that he’s given up illusions of bipartisanship and will fight hard for his agenda:

...the GOP sees the solution to the [economic] crisis in the measures its right wing has always favored: gutting regulation; keeping taxes on the affluent low; cutting government programs; and stopping Ben Bernanke and the Fed from doing anything to put the unemployed back to work that might risk the tiniest bit of inflation and thus dilute, even momentarily, the wealth of the already wealthy.

...Up to this point, Obama has acted as if nothing much had happened in the Republican Party. He kept talking about bipartisanship and tried not once but twice to make a big deficit deal with John Boehner. Quite predictably, both efforts blew up in his face.

The president seems to have awoken to the danger he faces. In his speech to Congress, he pointedly addressed those who believe “that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own.” He added: “That’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America.”

But that is precisely who most of the Republican Party now thinks we are.

The president has offered eloquent defenses of the role of government in the past, only to revert to bipartisan fantasies that, in the end, always make him look weaker. The central question — for his jobs plan and his future — is whether this time he sticks with an analysis of the nature of our political fight that sees it as it is, not as he wishes it were.

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