HALPERIN BLAMES OBAMA…. President Obama went to great lengths to reach out to House Republicans, trying to get them to support an economic stimulus in the midst of an economic crisis. The president not only offered them more tax cuts than seemed necessary, he also acted swiftly to remove spending provisions — family planning, National Mall renovations — that they mocked.
The entire Republican caucus, we now know, balked anyway. Time‘s Mark Halperin, naturally, is blaming Obama. From this morning’s appearance on MSNBC:
“This is a really bad sign for Barack Obama to try to change Washington…. He needs bipartisan solutions. They went for it and they came up with zero…. [This] does not bode well for a future that is supposed to be post-partisan. […]
“[Obama] could have gone for centrist compromises. You can say to your own party, ‘Sorry, some of you liberals aren’t going to like it, but I am going to change this legislation radically to get a big centrist majority rather than an all-Democratic vote.’ He chose not to do that, that’s the exact path that George Bush took for most of his presidency with disastrous consequences for bipartisanship and solving big problems.”
It’s hard to overstate how foolish this analysis is.
Halperin believes, for reasons that are unclear, that the paramount goal was to win the support of lawmakers who were wrong and who were advocating bad ideas. It’s not about what works, or what would actually improve the economy in the midst of a serious recession. What really matters is “bipartisan solutions.” Why? Because Mark Halperin says so. Merit be damned — if Democrats liked the legislation and Republicans didn’t, it’s necessarily flawed.
In our reality, Obama did make “centrist compromises,” and liberals in the Democratic Party didn’t like it. Obama did the opposite of Bush’s style of governing — he engaged the congressional minority, listened to their ideas, and weakened his own bill to garner a larger majority. House Republicans insisted on a worse bill, Democrats wouldn’t give them one, so the GOP voted against it. Halperin inexplicably believes that’s Obama’s fault.
I’m trying to wrap my head around Halperin’s logic here. By his reasoning, the only appropriate thing for Obama to do was let Republicans — who failed at governing, and who’ve been rejected by voters — shape the bill, addressing the crisis they helped create. If the far-right House GOP caucus was unsatisfied, it was Obama’s responsibility to make them happy. Why? Because Mark Halperin says so.
This is absurd.