Obama Has Done Zero Genuine Bipartisan Outreach

Offering a proposal that the other side finds to be beyond-the-pale and telling them that you’re not really interested in their ideas doesn’t become a genuine attempt at bipartisanship just because you talk to them for 15 minutes over sandwiches,

President Barack Obama’s first date with House Republicans didn’t end so well: He made a high-profile trip to the Capitol to ask for their help with his economic stimulus plan, and they said no — unanimously, twice.

Now Obama is trying again — more quietly and with a smaller group of moderate Republicans who might be more willing to say yes. The goal: Try to get at least some Republicans to back big-ticket items such as Obama’s health care plan, but avoid the public spectacle of being rejected a second time around.

Rather than have the president, his motorcade and his press pool trek to Capitol Hill, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel last week invited about a dozen or so moderate House Republicans to meet with him in a small outdoor courtyard just off the West Wing.

According to members who attended, Emanuel acknowledged that even moderate Republicans might not support Obama’s health care plan in the end, but he said that the White House wanted to maintain an open dialogue throughout the process — and that some of their ideas might be included.

The president stopped by for about 15 minutes. He listened to the Republicans’ ideas for overhauling the health care system and agreed to review an energy bill authored, in part, by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

…Administration officials, including Emanuel, thought their efforts at bipartisanship during the stimulus debate at times got in the way of promoting the substance of the bill. Receiving such little Republican support on the stimulus was something of a wake-up call, and Obama’s advisers have since made clear that they’d prefer to move their priorities on health care and energy than win praise from process-obsessed Beltway types for being inclusive of the minority.

In his 100 days news conference late last month, Obama assured reporters that his outreach to Republicans “has been genuine.” But he quickly added a more politic version of his now-famous “I won” declaration from earlier this year.

“I can’t sort of define bipartisanship as simply being willing to accept certain theories of theirs that we tried for eight years and didn’t work and the American people voted to change,” Obama said.

This is why conservatives who understand politics have so much disdain for what passes for “bipartisanship” in DC.

When Democrats are in charge, they define “bipartisanship” as getting together with Republicans, telling them what they intend to do and demanding that the GOP abandon every principle they have to vote for it.

When Republicans are in charge, Democrats define “bipartisanship” as Republicans abandoning every principle they have to go along with whatever the Democrats want to do.

In other words, “bipartisanship” to Democrats like Barack Obama is hard-fisted partisanship with a cursory meeting and a couple of sandwiches thrown in. For a guy who ran on “unity” and “bipartisanship” against a genuinely “bipartisan” Republican, that is extraordinarily unimpressive.

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