The very first question in this morning’s White House press conference was pretty discouraging:
“[O]n your jobs bill, the American people are sick of games — and you mentioned games in your comments. They want results. Wouldn’t it be more productive to work with Republicans on a plan that you know could pass Congress as opposed to going around the country talking about your bill and singling out — calling out Republicans by name?”
Towards the end of the event, another reporter asked the nearly identical question:
“Anybody on Capitol Hill will say that there’s no chance that the American Jobs Act, in its current state, passes either House. And you’ve been out on the campaign trail banging away at them saying, pass this bill. And it begins, sir, to look like you’re campaigning, and like you’re following the Harry Truman model against the do-nothing Congress instead of negotiating. Are you negotiating? Will you?”
Look, I realize the media loves the idea of compromise. America needs an effective jobs bill, so under ideal circumstances, Democrats and Republicans would come together, make some concessions, and work out a deal. Such an approach was still possible in the not-so-distant past.
But these questions make it seem as if it’s incumbent upon President Obama to change strategies — stop taking a compelling message to the public, stop trying to create conditions that would pressure Congress to do the right thing, and start asking Republicans if they might please consider working with him on some half-measures that probably wouldn’t do much good, at their convenience, if they don’t mind.
Have we not already been through this?
The president has pleaded with congressional Republicans, more times than the White House would like to admit, to work with him on good faith — not just on economic issues, but on anything. It’s proven to be pointless. Indeed, it’s been worse than pointless — the failed outreach has occasionally made Obama look weak; it’s infuriated his base; and Republicans have, without fail, refused to meet him anywhere close to half-way. As the president said this morning, “I’m also dealing with a Republican Majority Leader who said that his number-one goal was to beat me — not put Americans back to work, not grow the economy, not help small businesses expand, but to defeat me. And he’s been saying that now for a couple of years.”
Hell, on more than a few occasions, Obama has endorsed GOP ideas, only to discover that they no longer support their own policies if the president agrees with them.
The fight for the American Jobs Act is the first time in a long while that the president has tried a more aggressive posture, not because he prefers confrontation, but because Republicans haven’t responded to countless appeals for constructive negotiation. With the GOP repeatedly slapping away his outstretched hand, Obama wasn’t left with much of a choice.
And some White House political reporters want to know why Obama isn’t trying to negotiate with those bent on destroying his presidency? Seriously?