And so the demonization escalates as you can see here.
Note to Republicans who choose to go this route. There are a lot of independent voters who are truly tired of this kind of rhetoric and will not cast their vote for a party that indulges in it or encourages it. The fact is: Barack Obama has not even been in office a week yet. Give it a rest. There will be plenty of time to go after Obama on the inevitable toe-stubs and wrong decisions that any President makes later. Right now you’re decimating your own credibility because it’s clear you won’t even give the guy A SINGLE WEEK. And, as Republicans pundits loudly — and pointedly — noted in 2000 and 2004: elections do rightfully “have consequences” when one side wins.
Obama said as much in a Congressional meeting today when The Politico reports he told Republicans at one point: “I won.”
Meanwhile, here’s another part of The Politico report worth quoting:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill was on track for passage by February 16, while Republicans continued to voice their opposition.
“We expressed our concerns about some of the spending that’s being proposed in the House bill,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said after meeting with Obama.
“How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?” Boehner asked. “How does that stimulate the economy?”
Well, it may not involve stimulation of the economy, but…
What’s going on here? According to David Weigel, writing in The Washington Independent, Republicans have come up with a two-pronged strategy to deal with the poll-popular Obama which is essentially triangulation: try to appear to be working with the Obama administration, but work to oppose it in Congress:
In response, Republicans are attempting to link themselves to the popular Obama administration while criticizing the work of the Democratic Congress. The goal is to oppose Democratic policy without being seen as opposing or obstructing the president, a posture that, they hope, will put them in better position to win back voters if the Democrats’ popularity falters.
“What Rep. Boehner and [Minority Whip] Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are doing is absolutely essential,” said Alex Brill, an economic research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who worked for the House Ways and Means Committee before the Democratic takeover in 2007. “They’re bringing to light the true effects of the Democrats’ proposals. They’re creating a dialogue. It’s the best that we can hope for right now.”
The strategy is only a little bit older than the Obama presidency. On Nov. 5, the then-president-elect met with House Republicans. In a comment that leaked out of the closed-door meeting, Obama told Republicans that “the monopoly on good ideas does not belong to a single party.” Immediately, Republican leaders started putting together a Working Group on Economic Solutions that would be, in Cantor’s words, “razor focused on job protection, preservation, and creation.”
Republican sources did not label the strategy “triangulation,” as a report in Roll Call did yesterday. But they did not deny that the portrayal of Obama as a working partner and the congressional Democrats as obstinate partisans was a reflection of the popularity of the two branches. The new president boasts approval ratings north of 70 percent; the Congress is mired in the 30s. “His message is bipartisanship,” said one Republican, referring to the president. “Their message is ‘trust us to spend your money.’”
The Politico report indicates Obama may not go along with this strategy. If he said “I won” he’s stating that working with him means more than just perfunctory smiles and handshakes: it will mean substantive cooperation. So if Obama’s popularity remains high (a big “given” due to the problems he has to tackle) the GOPers who are in the news for trying to delay action on policies he says are vital ASAP will be seen as obstructionists…and likely suffer the consequences at the ballot box.
(See the beginning of this post about independent voters — who had a little bit of a say in the outcome of the 2008 elections.)
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire has more details on Obama’s blunt statement:
With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .
Democratic and Republican aides confirmed the exchange. A White House spokesman said he wasn’t immediately aware of the exchange. The aides who heard the remarks stressed that it wasn’t as boldly partisan as it might sound.
Still, other Democrats echoed the sentiment. As he left the White House, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina was asked about Republican complaints that Democrats aren’t listening to what their GOP colleagues have to say. “We’re responding to the American people,” he said. “The American people didn’t listen to them too well during the election.”
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.