I wholeheartedly endorse Mark Thiessen’s advice to the Republican Party, and hope they take every word of it:
I wish more Republicans were like Barack Obama.
Really. Give the president his due: he fights for what he believes in.
In his first year in office, Obama faced a popular backlash against his stimulus spending bill and saw a Republican elected to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in a referendum on Obamacare. Yet despite these and other setbacks, the president declared he had no intention of moderating his approach. “The one thing I’m really clear about is that I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” Obama said in a January 2010 interview.
That attitude is precisely why Obama is a now two-term president.
Instead of backing down in the face of a rising tea party movement, Obama doubled down.
Thiessen was apparently in a cave for 2010-11 when Obama offered nothing but concessions to the Tea Party-fueled Congress, only to be told ‘no’ so many times that Obama wondered publicly if the GOP would ever take ‘yes’ for an answer. We all know what happened next: the debt ceiling debate caused a downgrade in America’s credit rating and the GOP took the lion’s share of the blame, to their continuing electoral detriment. Obama did nothing but offer concessions to the GOP for eighteen months, and by refusing to accept any of them, the House GOP caused a calamity for which they were rightly blamed. If anything, Obama should be given credit for a give-em-enough-rope strategy, except I don’t think that’s what he thought he was doing. If it was, Thiessen wouldn’t know it, anyway.
He knew full well that that the majority of Americans disagreed with Obamacare, but he believed it was the right thing to do. So he rammed it through Congress, passing it over the near-unanimous opposition of the Republican Party and the objections of the American people.
That’s an oldie! I haven’t heard the characterization of the most debated bill in legislative history as being “rammed through Congress” in at least a year. (Also, since when is having the votes to pass something “ramming it through?”) If you’ll recall the health care debate, Obama offered Republicans numerous opportunities to work on the bill, all of which they ended up refusing in what now appears to be the real gear-up of the GOP’s current extreme iteration. In doing so cost themselves any input on (and thus any credit for) the defining legislation of the past decade. Someone should write an article about that (and then get fired for it).
Or take taxes…Obama strong-armed the GOP by making clear he was ready to take the country over the fiscal cliff and allow taxes to rise on every single American. He was willing to let the country go into recession if he did not get his way. He knew he had political leverage, and he used it without hesitation — forcing his political opposition to bend to his will.
Why can’t Republicans do that?
Instead of using Obama’s Chicago-style, brass-knuckle approach…
Thiessen must be talking about the time Obama made unforced concessions to avoid the fiscal cliff, and Boehner left the bargaining table to facepalm into “Plan B.” The House GOP brass-knuckled itself, buddy. In fact, that seems to be the connecting thread of its failures. In every one of Thiessen’s examples, Obama made clear overtures to the Republicans—at times, capitulating in advance—only to be rebuffed by an extremist party that then got none of what it wanted, and in some cases got a heaping of blame instead. Thiessen is saying that the Republicans need to do more of this, bigger and louder and harder.
Here is a better idea: Republicans should take a page from Obama’s playbook, do what they think is right, use all the leverage at their disposal and stop worrying about the electoral consequences.
Again, Republicans: please, please, please take this advice.