At the White House yesterday, the President made it clear that his Inaugural message to Muslims “on the wrong side of history”–that “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”–applies to Congressional Republicans as well.
Responding to Rep. Eric Cantor’s objection to the proposal to increase benefits for low-income workers who don’t owe federal income taxes, Obama reminded him of the November election results. “I won,” he said. “I trump you on that.”
He also suggested to Cantor, John Boehner, Jon Kyl and other leaders of the GOP’s negative wing, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”
Eager as Obama is for bipartisan support for his efforts to prop up the economy and the financial system, these are the first small signs that he may be willing to take some lessons from the Rahm Emanuel school of political hardball.
In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had a near-death experience in the November balloting, seems to have gotten the memo.
“I realize,” he said yesterday, ‘that if you told most people Mitch McConnell was down at the National Press Club hoping for bipartisanship, they’d tell you that’s like an insurance agent hoping for an earthquake. Most people don’t exactly view me as the Mr. Rogers of the Senate.”
But, he added, “Everybody believes that government action is necessary. This is coming out of the mouth of someone who doesn’t normally advocate government action as a first resort.”