WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE IN FRED BARNES’ REALITY?…. We can probably all name pundits who disappoint for one reason or another. But when it comes to shameless partisan hackery, it’s practically impossible to top the Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes. Among GOP water-carriers, Barnes is in a league of his own.
This week, he blasts President Obama for being a rigid Democratic partisan, unwilling to even consider compromise. Seriously. (via Jon Chait, who said Barnes lives in a “wildly partisan alternate universe”)
Obama has talked about compromise, but has neither sought nor produced a single one.
Obama has succumbed to the temptation of large majorities. The lopsided Democratic margins — 59-41 in the Senate, 254-177 (four vacancies) in the House — allowed him to win approval of his health care plan without making a single meaningful concession to Republicans. And he’s pursuing a partisan, no-compromise strategy with his remaining initiatives this year.
Just as the Democratic base gets increasingly frustrated about the White House’s willingness to compromise and make concessions to win Republican support, here’s Barnes insisting — presumably in earnest — that the president hasn’t even tried to compromise with the GOP.
He doesn’t appear to be kidding.
On health care reform, Barnes says Obama did not make “a single meaningful concession to Republicans.” That’s obviously nonsense. The president’s plan featured a public insurance option — a provision Obama touted repeatedly for months — that ultimately was scrapped. A measure to include a Medicare buy-in was endorsed by the White House, but that was compromised away, too. Indeed, the fact that the White House took single-payer off the table before the process even began was itself a concession to Republicans.
Looking back, Obama spent much of the year trying to strike a deal with Republicans, who, in return, refused to negotiate in good faith. Barnes may have missed it, but in April, the president sat down with congressional Republican leaders in the hopes of finding some common ground on health care. Obama said he’d be willing to make some concessions on medical liability issues, and asked what the GOP would be willing to give ground on in return. Nothing, they said.
But this isn’t just about health care. Barnes perceives the president as unwilling to negotiate with Republicans on anything, while the exact opposite appears to be true. The stimulus package shrank after compromises with Republicans. The climate/energy bill is the result of bipartisan negotiations, as the Wall Street reform bill and the immigration reform blueprint. I can’t think of any issue where the White House hasn’t been willing to make at least some concessions.
I can only imagine what the weather is like in Fred Barnes’ reality.