Obama Blames Himself for Tone in Washington? Well Yeah, He Should.


After spending two years encouraging Democrats not to work with Republicans, getting their wish, and then complaining about it, liberals are really going to hate Obama pretending to go back to his new tone flibbity-flabitty-floop from the campaign:

Just 20 days after his inauguration, with Republicans trying to block his stimulus bill, President Obama refused to acknowledge that he had underestimated how hard it would be to change the way Washington works.

But as the president returned home on Sunday to face an even more rigidly divided capital, Mr. Obama went even further by blaming himself for failing to do what he had repeatedly promised – change the tone in Washington.

He said his own “obsessive” focus on implementing the right policies had led him to ignore a part of the reason voters handed him a mandate in 2008.

“I neglected some things that matter a lot to people, and rightly so: maintaining a bipartisan tone in Washington,” he told reporters in a brief question-and-answer session aboard Air Force One as he returned from a 10-day trip to Asia. “I’m going to redouble my efforts to go back to some of those first principles,” he promised.

…Creating a new tone in Washington was a central theme that ran throughout Mr. Obama’s campaign for the presidency.

…For much of the last two years, Mr. Obama and his aides have pointed the finger of blame at Republicans, saying that efforts at changing the way Washington works have been systematically blocked by Republicans.

But Mr. Obama appears to have now concluded that some of the fault is shared by his own staff, which often pursued politics by traditional means as he tried to push through fiscal stability measures, health care reform and new financial regulations.

First off, it is important to note that Barack Obama did make bipartisanship a central part of his campaign for the presidency. If you make a promise to reach across the aisle one of the key reasons why people should vote for you, then the electorate has a right to judge you harshly if you don’t deliver.

Of course, many liberals would say that Obama did live up to his promise and those darn Republican obstructionists were at fault for the disagreements. But, you have to ask: Did Barack Obama work with Republicans to create policies from scratch or did he work with Democrats in Congress to create bills and then tinker with them a little to try to pick off a Republican vote or two? Time and time again, it was the latter, wasn’t it? Nothing very bipartisan about that, is there?

Moreover, what’s bipartisan about quotes like these?

“I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.” — Barack Obama to Eric Cantor during a meeting over the stimulus

These folks spent a decade driving our economy into a ditch. And as soon as we took office, we put on our boots. We climbed down into the ditch. It was muddy down there. It was dusty. Bugs. And we’re pushing on the car and we’re trying to get it out and slipping and sliding. And the whole time the Republicans are standing there, sipping on a Slurpee. Just watching us, saying, “You’re not pushing hard enough. You’re not pushing the right way.”

And we tell them, “Come on down here and help. We could use a hand.” “No, that’s okay.” And so finally, finally, after two years of toil, we get this car back on the road, and we can see the way forward. And we get a tap on our shoulder, and we turn around and it’s the Republicans. And they say, “Can we have the keys back?”

No, you can’t have the keys back! You don’t know how to drive! You don’t know how to drive, you can’t have the keys! You don’t know how to drive. — Barack Obama

But I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking. — Barack Obama

Obama can’t make unity a central plank of his campaign, get elected and talk smack like Chris Christie, and then expect people to give him credit for reaching out to the Republicans. Moreover, it’s worth noting that if the 2010 election produced any kind of a “mandate” on anything, it was a mandate to politicians that oppose/favor rolling back Obama’s agenda. Like it or not, that’s now the starting point for “bipartisanship” and if Obama had a hard time with the concept over the last two years, he’s really going to struggle with it between now and 2012 unless he smartens up.

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