A BIPARTISAN TEAM…. To hear his conservative detractors tell it, President Obama is a cutthroat partisan, out to destroy those on the other side. He’s a “Chicago-style,” modern-day Nixon, complete with “enemies lists.” He’s “politics as usual,” unwilling to move towards a “post-partisan” approach.
In Grown-Up Land, of course, President Obama not only reaches out to Republicans, he keeps hiring them. Indeed, no modern president has added so many officials from the rival party to an administration the way this president has.
President Barack Obama has appointed former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) to serve as a co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
During his time in the Senate, Hagel was highly critical of the Bush administration’s approach to the Iraq war. The Nebraskan refused to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in last year’s presidential election and rumors emerged that he might back Obama. He never did endorse a candidate.
Hagel served on the Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee before retiring from the Senate at the end of his term earlier this year.
If memory serves, Hagel is the seventh Republican to take on a fairly significant role in the Obama administration. He follows John McHugh (Secretary of the Army), Ray LaHood (Secretary of Transportation), Robert Gates (Secretary of Defense), Jim Leach (National Endowment for the Humanities), Jon Huntsman (U.S. Ambassador to China), and Anne Northup (Consumer Product Safety Commission). It would have been eight were it not for the unpleasantness with Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama’s numbers slipping on his “willingness to work with people whose viewpoints are different from his own.”
I’m not sure what more the White House can do on this front. Obama has not only repeatedly sought out GOP lawmakers for support on legislation, but he also keeps giving Republicans jobs in his administration, arguably at a level without modern precedent.
Also note that the president’s efforts haven’t generated any goodwill with the opposition party. Obama has added more than a half-dozen Republicans to his team, and GOP leaders continue to whine about the president being some kind of strident partisan.
If White House officials hope putting together a bipartisan team might lower the partisan temperature a bit and discourage Republican attacks, they’re likely to be disappointed.