Apparently, to President Obama “bipartisanship” doesn’t mean kowtowing to members of a minority party who are being a pack of obstructionist assholes.
“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he [President Obama] told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.
“There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats,” the official said. “We shouldn’t let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.”
That wasn’t Obama’s only jab at Republicans today.
In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: “I won,” according to aides briefed on the meeting.
Republicans are up to their usual tricks of spreading lies about the President’s proposal while they insist that the only possible solution to the financial crisis is tax cuts. One story they are spreading, for example, is that most of the funds in the stimulus package wouldn’t be spent until 2010. Ryan Grim explains why this is a lie. See Scott Lilly for more.
Kos asks, “Why does Obama keep thinking that ‘appealing for bipartisanship” will move a single Republican vote?’ Based on what he said yesterday, I’m not sure that’s what President Obama thinks. But it depends on what you mean by “bipartisan.”
An online dictionary defines “bipartisanship” as “of, relating to, or involving members of two parties; specifically: marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties.” In other words, it is two parties working together, not Party R trying to undermine the other for political advantage, while Party D passively lets them get away with it.
I think President Obama was trying to signal that if Republicans get serious about governing, and if they bring serious ideas to the table, he is willing to listen to them and work with them. But if they continue their usual pattern of playing childish political games, they can go to hell.
The adult was telling the children they can sit at the grown-ups’ table as long as they sit up straight and behave.
People across the political spectrum have got a weird idea that “bipartisanship” means Democrats must meet Republicans halfway, even if the Republicans are being ridiculous and undermining everything the Dems are trying to do. Frankly, I don’t think that’s what it means.
First, Republicans are a minority party, and an increasingly regional party. The majority of Americans should not be held hostage by the minority. Republicans have not earned the right, or the votes, to be met halfway. They can be met as far as voters’ endorsed them, but that’s less than halfway.
Second, bipartisanship requires “cooperation, agreement, and compromise.” If Republicans are just going to lie, grandstand and obstruct, there can be no bipartisanship, and that will be their fault. I think President Obama is signaling that he doesn’t want to shut the Republicans out of the governing loop, but no one will work “with” them until they demonstrate they can be worked with.
So far, they haven’t.
Update: Steve Benen reminds us of how Republicans define “bipartisanship.”