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Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 11/19/2010

How should Obama handle new, emboldened GOP?

By Greg Sargent

I decree that from now on, anyone who criticizes Obama for saying he's going to try to seek compromise with Republicans should be required to say what it is Obama should do instead. Yes, it's grating when Obama does this. Yes, it's plainly obvious that we're headed for all-out partisan war. Yes, some Republicans have openly stated that they see no need to seek compromise and instead are out to ensure Obama's defeat in 2012 .

But what should Obama do about this? How should he proceed?

The other day, Brookings scholar and Congressional expert Thomas Mann got some attention when he called on Obama in strikingly forceful terms to wake up and deal with reality:

Republicans are determined to defeat Obama in 2012; they have no interest in negotiating with him in order to provide him any sort of victory. This is a partisan war and the Republicans are playing to win. The only question is how long it will take Obama to accept this reality and act accordingly.

I thought it would be worth getting back in touch with Mann to ask what specifically Obama should do in order to "act accordingly." He emailed me this reply:

During his first two years in office, Obama had an ambitious legislative agenda to pursue. He had to adapt his strategies to the realities of Congress, most importantly the promiscuous use of the filibuster by Republicans in the Senate and the unreliability of support on many difficult issues of a half dozen or more Democratic senators. Repeated and extended efforts at negotiations with Republicans were essential, if only to deliver all 60 Democrats/Independents once Franken was elected and Specter switched parties. His campaign rhetoric on a postpartisan politics, however naive or disengenuous, had to be given a try.

The context in the 112th Congress is entirely different. With no expectations of passing important new legislation or of garnering anything from Republicans in Congress but political bait, he should pursue his substantive agenda where he can act on his own and use Congress as a place to submit a genuinely serious set of proposals to deal with the country's more serious challenges (with no expectation that any will pass) and couple them with high visibility straight talk to the American people about the course he is proposing.

This is similar to what former White House chief of staff John Podesta is now arguing. There seems to be a growing consensus that Obama's best route forward is twofold: First, go full throttle where he can on his own -- executive orders, rulemaking powers, and so forth. And second, lay down a clear vision and agenda in the full expectation that Republicans will oppose it, and use the presidential bully pulpit to wage a massive communications offensive hammering them relentlessly for their opposition and intransigence.

This is the alternative to the relentless, if often rhetorical, quest for common ground that marked his first two years. It's a whole different world now. Can Obama, who is one of the most gifted political communicators of the last generation, but is temperamentally suited more towards seeking reconciliation than confrontation, adapt accordingly?

By Greg Sargent  | November 19, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, 2012, House GOPers, Senate Republicans  
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Next: Senator John Ensign may support DADT repeal


Noun verb START treaty.

Posted by: klautsack | November 19, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic post.

More please!

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 19, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I think that Obama should keep doing exactly what he has been doing.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 19, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

He needs to:

A) Fully exploit the powers of the Presidency.
B) Reject Republican framing and messaging. Do not repeat their BS, as he has been doing on deficit and other.
C) Forcefully use the bully pulpit to show how the Rs are working against the American people by holding the economy hostage until the next election.
D) Get populist and tough. Revamp HAMP to deal with the foreclosure issue. Bust some banksters and lock them up.
E) Call for MORE JOBS and HIGHER WAGES. Republicans are the party of low wages. Pin that label to them.
F) Forget. about. the. deficit. Until unemployment drops 3-4 points.


Posted by: ANDYO1 | November 19, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I think he should act like a statesman: *expect* that the GOP as Americans will have differences but will negotiate in good faith. When they don't, call them on it.
This age of hyperpartisanship is wearing very thin on the average person-they want results, right? Especially when the economy is bad. I think they also want the president to somehow straddle the divide.

Is this even possible when the leaders of the opposition party are naked in their bloodthirst?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 19, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Start with the tax cuts, then START, then DADT. All of the polls say "we the people" are in favor of his position on all of these. Do it now, accept no compromise, make them vote.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

One more point:

The polling hasn't all of the sudden shown the public viewing the GOP favorably: they are still solidly *unfavorable*, correct? I don't see how legislative intransigence translates into a reversal of the polling. How long will the public actually put up with that?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 19, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

pragmaticagain, I'd rather him stick to passing bills where most Americans are against him.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 19, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

What the GOP and Kyl are doing with the START treaty ought to be Barack's wake up call. I said it here the other day, but he needs to use the bully pulpit which FDR used so successfully with his "fireside chats." In this case it would be more prime time press conferences and an occasional speech from the Oval Office. Perhaps even more public appearances in not entirely friendly purple swing states -taking the fight to the belly of the beast.

If Bush could use the Oval Office arena to speak about stem cell research, it seems to me that Obama could do the same with issues that effect many more people than stem cells. He has to speak directly and unfiltered to the electorate and make it apparent that the GOP wants to return to the good old days of 01-08. Make it blunt -
and let people know that GOP does not have the nation's welfare at heart, since they can't accept the election results of 08, as they couldn't in 1996.
Of course, if the GOP House decides to go through with an attempted impeachment, it will make Obama's message resonate even more.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 19, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"wake up and deal with reality"

This is excellent advice. I use it often, pretty much on a daily basis.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"I decree that from now on, anyone who criticizes Obama for saying he's going to try to seek compromise with Republicans should be required to say what it is Obama should do instead."

I have no problem with Obama SAYING he hopes to reach compromises with the GOP. The American people want to hear that from the President. But Obama must simultaneously recognize the reality that the GOP has no intention of compromising because they think they've already broken Obama. As I noted in a prior thread, I do see some signs that Obama is finally waking up to political reality. But it will certainly require some incontestable evidence before the GOP believes that Obama cant be rolled at will. Obama dug himself a hole and he will have a difficult time climbing out of it. But it CAN be done. The Modern Presidency is phenomenally powerful position.

Obama should announce the positions he thinks best for the country and then relentlessly explain and advocate for those positions. The American people want to hear what the President thinks and wants and this is truly one of Obama's strengths that, for some strange reason, he abandoned as soon as he was elected.

Obama saying that he wants compromise with the GOP is not the problem. But Obama will never get the GOP to compromise until the GOP respects him which, right now, they don't. Obama must make the GOP pay a price for its obstructionism and he does that by going directly to the American people as often as necessary to explain what he wants for the nation. The American people still want Obama to succeed. But he must rekindle the hope that drove his support.

Here is my advice to Obama: Use the bully pulpit and don't let the GOP intimidate you from employing your strengths. You are far smarter and orders of magnitude more reasonable than the Republicans. Don't fear them. Make the effort to work with the GOP but be prepared to quickly and viciously crush them when they betray you yet again. After a couple of beatings, the GOP might actually compromise. And, if they don't, you will have the country on your side anyway.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 19, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

President Obama needs to point out the GOP lies and half-truths loudly and repeatedly. He needs to name names and call them out every time. He tried being diplomatic and the GOP spit in his face. It's time to get tough. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Posted by: mwamp | November 19, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, claw. Most of us, on the other hand, would like to see the country succeed. The GOP does well heckling from the sidelines, rooting against the home team but you have no idea what to do once you get in the game. So just stay on the bench and let the starters do our best to win.

This is serious stuff, claw, and your glib cynicism has no place at the grown ups' table.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Obama, who is one of the most gifted political communicators of the last generation..."

I used to think that too. What happened, did he change speech writers?

"This is similar to what former White House chief of staff John Podesta is now arguing. There seems to be a growing consensus..."

This is also similar to what Obama's former supporters on the left have been arguing since his inauguration.

Now, his only hope is a Palin/mini-Palin ticket to oppose him in 2012.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

This is all nonsense. It has been proven, beyond a doubt, that Obama and his 'crats are self-defeating obamatons and no real action will be needed by Republicans to assure Democrat defeat in the coming years.

In 2012 the shellacking will be complete. The White House and the Senate will fall to the Republicans and the Democrat party will become a hapless runner-up, again.

Some keep saying that Obama's agenda items are popular with the American people. That is proven hogwash. The Obamacrats were slaughtered, wholesale, because of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid policies of partisan trickery and deceptions.

If homosexualizing America's armed forces were as popular as some seem to think, Obama would be riding a tide of good will and electoral victory right now.

If rewarding outlaw "immigrants" with amnesty and cheap, American citizenship is craved by so many Americans, would the Republicans have picked up over 675, state legisalative seats? NO WAY!

Virtually everything the Obamacrats did was contrary to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Americans. The crushing mid-terms are proof.

The Democrat party is on the political, endagered species list and the party leftists keep shooting it's feet out from under it.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 19, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"President Obama needs to point out the GOP lies and half-truths loudly and repeatedly. He needs to name names and call them out every time. He tried being diplomatic and the GOP spit in his face. It's time to get tough. No more Mr. Nice Guy."

What the electorate wants is a fighter, someone who is on their side. It's easier for people to identify with one guy than an entire GOP House chamber or Senate. This will especially go over well with the industrial MW and the old Clinton(both Bill and Hillary) voters.
Along with that , Obama, although it seems to be against his nature, needs to take a play from Ed Schultz's Psycho Talk playbook. During each press conference , he should name names of a wacky GOP member and mention one of their recent utterances, and remind the public that this is nuts and not what America is about. Slowly, this may show the moderate voter that what he is up against is more of a destructive adolescent cult than a political party.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse


"If homosexualizing America's armed forces..."

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@ filmnoia-

"Make it blunt -
and let people know that GOP does not have the nation's welfare at heart, since they can't accept the election results of 08, as they couldn't in 1996".

I don't agree with this. There is no percentage in Obama saying the GOP doesn't have the nation's welfare at heart. How would you like it if Bush said that about Democrats? Obama was right about seeking bipartisanship. How you framed your point, and correct me if I'm reading you wrong, is that the GOP is somehow less than patriotic. That attitude on the part of POTUS is bad. And. Will. Backfire.

I understand your frustration 100%.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 19, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

More nonsense from the right. Hey battleground, we're not talking about 2012 right now and we're not talking about elections. We're talking about GOVERNING the country NOW. There are real problems and some of us are actually discussing solutions, not petty politics and finger pointing.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Chuck, President Bush and his cronies DID question the patriotism of Democrats and they are still doing it to this day with their baseless arguments about START, their drum-banging about socialism (did you see the Roger Ailes interview?), etc.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

On the substance of this might be worth noting that this 2-fold strategy is nearly identical to what progressives have been shouting from the rooftops as what Pres. Obama should be doing from as long ago as, well, before inauguration.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 19, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

ChuckinDenton -

Obama would obviously be more diplomatic about it than I was. My frustration stems from seeing too much liberal wishy washy BS. However, he does have to be clear about reminding people what things were like for 8 years and that the GOP has no ideas other than the ones that brought this country to it's economic knees. Voters can read between the lines.
He doesn't need to say that the GOP wants America to fail, but be blunt enough to make it clear that their policies have proven to be failures. By the way, it certainly hasn't stopped the GOP from questioning the patriotism of the Dems over the years. It didn't seem to be an electoral loser this time around. It's SOP for them.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 19, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to grow a spine and stop turning the other cheek. Seems to me the GOP has already punched or kicked all four of his cheeks repeatedly; and he still grins and says "Lets try one more time". Enough is too much. It's time to punch back. And if he returned a few hits below-the-belt it wouldn't bother me a bit. What's good for the goose... and all that.

Posted by: mwamp | November 19, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Here is what is happening:

As the Democrat party becomes more leftist and "multicultural", it is losing touch with the concerns of the overwhelming majority of American citizens. This slowly drives mainstream Americans away from the Democrat party and into the open arms of the Republican party, their only alternative.

The Obamanation has really sped this process up. The rapid recovery of the Republicans from 2008 is proof. The Republican party may become a true, permanent, majority party very soon.

Here's the future of the two parties:

The Democrat party will be the catchall party of an assortment of aggrieved racial and cultural minorities with a few hardcore, leftist types in charge.

The Republican party will be the party of mainstream Americans. The true majority.

What the Democratic Party used to be many years ago.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 19, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is never going to invite Bruce Bartlett to another of their parties:

Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin have proposed a one-year payroll tax holiday to stimulate the economy. I have previously explained why I think monkeying around with the payroll tax is a dreadful idea and won't repeat my argument here. Today, I just want to ask one question: What are the odds that Republicans will ever allow this one-year tax holiday to expire? They wrote the Bush tax cuts with explicit expiration dates and then when it came time for the law they wrote to take effect exactly as they wrote it, they said any failure to extend them permanently would constitute the biggest tax increase in history. Sadly, Obama allowed himself to fall into the Republican trap, but that's another story. My point is that if allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire is the biggest tax increase in history, one that Republicans claim would decimate a still-fragile economy, then surely expiration of a payroll tax holiday would also constitute a massive tax increase on the working people of America.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"The American people want to hear that from the President."

Says who? Not this American!

These Scorched Earth Republicans will never compromise with Obama. They are completely at war with Democrats.

Posted by: ANDYO1 | November 19, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama should take down EVERY resluglican that has the balls to even stand up, given that the resluglican party is pretty much up for grabs unless Karl steps in and gives them a push. Three of four crudely public slash and tear sessions with whatever "prominent' resluglican they want to throw in the blender will get their attention.

This strategy is called "Be a Democrat".. pretty simple and does away with all the talk of spineless chumps...

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | November 19, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It isn't particularly what Obama should do, but what the Dems in Congress should do in coordination with him.

The Dems need to act like adults. Particularly they need to look beyond the end of their noses and prepare for the inevitable.

The inevitable, in this case, is that the Republicans will mostly ignore the budget process until September, the way they did for twelve years when they had the gavels. The dems need to take Obama's budget, and in caucus with both houses mark up a reasonably conservative budget, mostly what Obama asks for with perhaps one or to really needful additions or pragmatic deletions. Well before August they need a votable budget bill, vetted by all the Dems in all the relevant committees. No R's in these caucuses because they should be doing the formal, two party process and they won't be. (Remember, Boehner was part of the leadership that kept the Dems out of the Budget negotiations process back when). If the R's complain, ask them why they aren't doing their job and leading Congress in a public process of marking up the budget.

When the R's have nothing at all come 1 August, have Nancy Pelosi rise and submit the Democratic Budget as at least something to work on. Publish that budget on line in Excell format. Expect the proposed budget to be summarily rejected in the House. But KEEP bringing up that budget as all that Congress currently has to work on. As October looms, keep pushing the Democratic Caucus budget, since it is sure that there won't be a real Republican Response, just more Cloud Surfing.

With Government Shut Down looming, pull a Jed Bartlet and demand that Congress vote on a budget that has been available to the whole wide world for two months. Demand floor debate on all motions to recommit, table, kill, or delay.

Obama, through all this, must be reasonable and open to compromise, although he needs to take a dead center position and make it apparent that there is actually no compromise because the Republicans are adamantly against it. He needs to be all those wonderful things, Statesmanlike, Professorial, and, particularly, adult. Let the differences in Parties be stunningly apparent. Sincethis will let the republicans assume that 2010 was the norm, and 2012 will be the same, they will continue just as they have been behaving, and their popularity will remain in the pits.

Do all this again in 2012. Now run on reducing the deficit by the amount provided by the expiration of the Bush tax Cuts, (The Republicans will try to get the top rates cut time after time and Obama will veto them as Budget Busters, ala Reagan and the Highway Bill. The R's, however, won't get help overriding the Veto ala the Highway Bill.)

Since unless somebody tries to cut the economies throat, there will be some growth in jobs and business, but not a lot, the Dem's get to run on "Where's the JOBS."

Posted by: ceflynline | November 19, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Greg - I agree with most everything you and Mr. Mann have to say, but I seem to recall similar comments during the two years of Presidential elections.

All the lefty pundits, especially those who backed Obama, were constantly shaking their fists and insisting that, "Obama HAS to do this or it is over," or, "Obama has to hit back, and he has to do so NOW," or, "Obama is too nice, Hillary is rolling him," etc.

My point is that people on the left, including myself, tend to love backseat driving/armchair quarterbacking. It all seems so clear to us. Yet looking back most of that advice was ignored and Obama succeeded anyway. Now you can say, "Well, sure, but he would have succeeded more if he had followed my advice," and maybe that is true. But maybe it isn't.

Maybe those of us on the left should realize that Obama is a smart guy who does know what he is doing. He may not always do exactly what we wish, but that might be a good thing! Those of us that come to PL, with the exception of the PLRA and other wingnut trolls, tend to be a lot more liberal and a lot more involved in politics than the general public. And Obama is everyone's President, not just ours.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 19, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I think he will vote Present a lot.

Posted by: BlueSquareState | November 19, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Why did battleground put multicutural in quotes?

Are they not really becoming multicultural or is there not really any such thing as multicultural?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 19, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I would suggest he invite them to vote, but ignore them if they don't. Point out to the AMERICAN PEOPLE directly about what they are up to, every day. I want to see Dem members of the House and Senate out there in the press every day revealing what these right wing skunks are up to. Even Leslie Gelb thinks the Republicans will do anything to deny Obama any victory. The GOP will overreach, and they will lose in 2012. Push forward, President Obama, with your agenda. That's why we voted for you. Offer them a deal, if they don't take it, forget them.

Posted by: LAB2 | November 19, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

battleground is an idiot.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe those of us on the left should realize that Obama is a smart guy who does know what he is doing."

No one questions his "smarts". We just question whether he has "the junk" to get it done and be a fighter. Enough of this two year rope a dope. He has to come out as Muhammed Ali did and "sting like a bee."
If not, I think he's a one termer.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 19, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

All, important news: Senator Ensign indicates on the record he may support Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 19, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

He has to come out as Muhammed Ali did and "sting like a bee."
If not, I think he's a one termer.


Thanks for providing an example of what I was talking about.

I heard the exact same thing when Hillary was using her kitchen sink strategy. Obama did too, I'm sure. He ignored it and managed to win decisively.

What we should keep in mind is that while the base is vital, you can't win with ONLY your base. We are what, maybe 15% of the electorate? If he does what we keep insisting he "must do" we will be happy, but not everyone agrees with us. Indeed, most people don't agree with EITHER base.

I'm not saying he shouldn't fight. I think he should, but I'm very aware that my politics, and my addiction to politics, aren't shared by everyone.

Do you remember during the 2000 election season when everyone was insisting that Al Gore needed to fight? He needed to look more manly? Gore heeded that advice during a debate and got in W.s face for a moment. Gore ended up looking foolish, imo.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 19, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea--tell the Republicans "it's my way or the highway" on the Bush tax cut extension. I can't understand why Obama is shy about using his only leverage--the ability to completely end the Bush tax cuts, regardless of what the Republicans want. Once everyone sees the results of that in their paychecks, he can loudly proclaim, "the Republicans did this to you, holding you hostage to save tax cuts for the rich. If they wise up and send me a bill that meets my requirements, I'll sign it immediately."

Unfortunately, that fighting spirit seems to have left the Democrats, and now all they aspire to is "junior republican" status. Maybe that's why 45 million who voted in 2008 stayed home in 2010. They thought they were voting for change, and all they got was Richard Nixon's health care plan and one cave-in after another to the Republicans.

Posted by: Northsider | November 19, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I think this article is spot on. IMO, the reason the left turned away is that they felt that no one was fighting for them; just catering to the rabid right.

Now that the right wing has lost all sense of proportion and only exists to remove Obama, Dems have no choice but to fight. You can't negotiate with someone who only acts in bad faith and then tells the most fantastical lies about your positions. You have take a stand, fight and that's all there is to it.

I keep hoping Obama is just going through the motions of keeping the Repubs in the loop and that he's going to turn around any moment... I hope anyhow.

Posted by: Alex3 | November 19, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Hans jibed,

"Well, sure, but he would have succeeded more if he had followed my advice," and maybe that is true. But maybe it isn't."

Of course it is! All my advice is sheer genius. Every word.

I appreciate being able to make jokes here, most post-it boards are dominated by people who take themselves waaaaay to seriously.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

My theory is that the Republicans manage to get support from "low awareness" lower middle class voters for one simple reason: they come across as strong. They have clear, simple views and they fight relentlessly for them. The Democrats need to reach back to the days of Samuel Gompers and learn to "reward their friends, and punish their enemies." The wishy washy nice guy will never win the blue collar vote.

Posted by: Northsider | November 19, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"He needed to look more manly? Gore heeded that advice during a debate and got in W.s face for a moment. Gore ended up looking foolish, imo."

I remember that moment. Al Gore was a bit of a doofus. Obama is too smart for something so tranparent. It's not asking too much to expect him to be a fighter and not an Oxford Club debater.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 19, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I think you've nailed it, Greg.

Posted by: apn3206 | November 19, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse


He doesn't need to tell them that, because they know it and he knows they know it. Presently the Republicans haven't actually produced a votable motion or bill to run against the democratic party position. To extend the whole tax cut scheme there will need to be a votable motion made, seconded, discussed and called. As of now not even a predecessor to the first requirement exists.

Pelosi and Reid promise a motion or bill that may be voted, PROVIDED the Republicans even let it on the floor, AFTER THANKSGIVING. that means the first week of December to get it past ordinary debate. If it isn't voted before Christmas it is dead, as are Bush's tax cuts.

Time and inaction are on Obama's side. He doesn't need a bill passed, he needs some version of the death of the Bush tax cuts and total extinction at the hands of the republicans is actually a very acceptable option.

Obama wants middle class tax cut extension, and nothing more. If he doesn't get that extension, because the republicans won't sign on, then he gets a really big decrease in the deficit that he can plausibly claim for his own. The republicans wouldn't dare claim THAT deficit reduction because they say that that reduction is a very bad idea.

And in the very unlikely circumstance that a last minute BF causes the Republicans to win, as long as the last vote is after the 21st of December, Obama puts it in his pocket and forgets about it and it goes extinct.

There is brute force, and there is finesse.

Even a bridge Expert uses a finesse when called for.

Posted by: ceflynline | November 19, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

President Obama: Let the tax cuts expire, period. Then take your agenda and proposals to the American people FIRST and tell them what and why you are doing what you intend. And most important of all: let the REpublicans filibuster everything. That will tell Americans who they really are.

Posted by: 85edwardearthlinknet | November 19, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Hans, I am not saying he should be more pugnacious, we agree on that, though some don't.

I have been saying all along there are far better ways to fight. For example, these Republicans are not just fractious, they are fractured. He needs to exacerbate the problems the Republicans have with each other.

It would be so easy to blow Sarah Palin up into a shower of sparks someday if the right IEDs are laid in the Republican platform. This isn't about acting mean. This isn't about ridiculing or acting like someone you are not. It is about political infighting. Where are Tip O'Neil and Lyndon Johnson anyway?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute cefly ... that would be cheating!!

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse


Russia to GOP: "WTF???"

Russians are mystified. They can't quite believe the U.S. Senate might fail to ratify the nuclear arms treaty, and they see no good from such an outcome.

The list of possible harmful effects they cite encompasses a minefield of global concerns: no more cooperation on Iran, a setback for progressive tendencies in Russia, new hurdles for Russian membership in the World Trade Organization, a terrible example for nuclear countries such as China and India, dim prospects for better NATO relations. And to top it off, the United States and its president would look ridiculous.

"The result will by no means be nuclear catastrophe," said Igor S. Ivanov, a former foreign minister, searching for a bright note, "but there will undoubtedly be negative results, and not just for U.S.-Russian relations."


Russia would not backtrack on its refusal to sell Iran missiles, he added, but additional sanctions would not be supported. Nuclear countries such as China and India would have little reason to limit their own arsenals. Then there's NATO.

"It would be pretty difficult to expect true cooperation between Russia and NATO," he said.

Why does the GOP hate protecting America's national security?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 19, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

You DO have to admire one thing about the GOP- They have perfected the art of propaganda. Between Faux News channel and talk radio they are able to repeat their lies over and over and over...

Posted by: mwamp | November 19, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

KNUCKLE WHIPPED BARRY? yo yappin 'bout?

Posted by: craigslsst | November 19, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Almost 7 years ago, in an Atlantic piece called "The Chieftains and the Church", Ted Halstead wrote: "the [Democratic Party] is so busy playing defense that it has forgotten how to play offense. When the Republicans were in the minority during the early Clinton years, they introduced one bold proposal after another—never expecting that these would pass in the short run, but hoping to galvanize the party and set precedents for the future."

It's called "moving the Overton window" and the Dems need to figure out how to do it.

Halstead's piece is here:

Posted by: RobLewis51 | November 19, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Progressives need to enhance their voice so that the right gets a response every day during the 24/7 spin. Soros wants to fight back. Maybe some of the money can stand up for progressive values before it is too late.
I'm happy with corporations vs the people instead of left and right. Leave the White House to do its job and defend them when they help the people. Bush was not expected to speak to the media every day to establish his party's values.

Posted by: LillithMc | November 19, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"Wait a minute cefly ... that would be cheating!! Posted by: pragmaticagain"

Of course not. Every third Bridge column points out that knowing when to finesse, when to play for the drop, and when to put your opponent on lead and let him finesse himself and his partner is the essence of winning declarer play.

And the two thirds of the columns that describe defense and advanced play like the end play, the squeeze, and the asthma coup are the fun part of bridge writing.

Posted by: ceflynline | November 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"I decree that from now on, anyone who criticizes Obama for saying he's going to try to seek compromise with Republicans should be required to say what it is Obama should do instead."

Call them racists.

Posted by: shewholives | November 19, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a wimp and I cannot belive you think he will act like a real man. Where have you seen him actually fight for something. He is a wussy extraordinaire unless of course he is making wall street safe for bonuses.

Posted by: mikegrossh | November 19, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a wimp and I cannot belive you think he will act like a real man. Where have you seen him actually fight for something. He is a wussy extraordinaire unless of course he is making wall street safe for bonuses.

Posted by: mikegrossh | November 19, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think communication is the problem, results are Obama's problem. So far, he has the golden touch. Everything he touches turns to sheet. If you get positive results does it matter who gets the credit? When it comes to blame, the Dem's duck and run for cover. Stimulus, spend how much and have exactly what to show for it? Health Care, supposed to lower cost? Its obvious you must not be paying for health care insurance because our costs have all gone up. The folks that pay for things, you know, taxpayers are saying one simple message so let me help the POTUS. Learn to live within your means. Any questions?

Posted by: elcigaro1 | November 19, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wants to come back from his nadir instead of pushing further into the depths he has to get hard. He needs to find a Senator or a House Republican and destroy them. It shouldn't be hard, as they are all corrupt and perverse as a condition of getting into office, but he has to make an example out of someone to show there is an Obama to be feared and respected, not just a placating negotiating wimp. It doesn't take much to get the middle right media (NBC, CBS, MSNBC,ABC) to repeat simple and dull facts and start rah rahing against the Republicans when their records and public behavior are exposed.
Next up is start prosecuting war criminals in showy public trials. Even if it is just Bybee and Yoo or some other functionary at the Eichmann level rather than the Speer level, this sends a message. Take out some banksters as well, whether in a sincere effort or letting the industry pick the sacrificial goat. It wouldn't hurt to start pushing for a prescription drug group purchase negotiation plan. If the people he pokes squeak a lot, it won't matter how hard he really poked them as long as it looks like he's doing something.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | November 19, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

It was wrong for Bush or anyone else to insinute a lack of patriotism on the part of Democrats-that doesn't mean we have to do the same. Its B.S. all the way around.

Since we are all armchairing here: I would pick some important issues he believes in, and fight hard for them. The rest can be negotiated.

I also like the point upthread about pitting the fractious GOP/Teabaggers against each other. Seems like that is where alot of the action is.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 19, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

It would have been nice if Obama had actually tried to include the Republicans at the beginning of his term. His approach was direct and consistent. I will listen to your suggestions ... and then do what I was going to anyway. The Speaker of the House was even worse. She would not let the minority introduce bills or amendments ... a first in the House. And you wonder why the republicans kept saying no?

Posted by: usr105 | November 20, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

What's really funny is how two years ago we were told over and over how "smart" Obama is. Now every left wing journ-o-list seems to think Obama so stupid that he needs to take advise from them.


Posted by: manapp99 | November 20, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

You guys will never learn ... it's not the GOP that Barry is fighting with over the tax cuts ... IT'S HIS OWN PARTY ... Democratic Senators will reject any tax increase in this economic environment as they should ... if this wasn't the case they would have done it before the elections but they don't have the votes ... imagine that Senators actually listening to their constituents ... this is all showboating class warfare nonsense and when the dust settles we'll have a temporary two year extension for all incomes ... then you can go back to railing at the fates and crying in your latte's ... so get on with it ...

Posted by: cunn9305 | November 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

That is utter BS and you know it! Republicans
were responsible for the watered down legislation that became the healthcare bill, financial reform, the stimulus, etc. Had they wished to PARTICIPATE in addressing the nation's problems, they were more than welcome. They added untold amendments to each and every bill and then voted no en bloc anyhow, with the exception of the stimulus which garnered three GOP votes in the Senate. Had they actually wanted to ensure economic recovery at a faster rate, they might have listened to the majority of economists when they stated that it needed to be much larger. Had they been interested in controlling the deficit, they would have included a public option in order to control government healthcare costs. You do realize, do you not, that healthcare costs are enormous when people with no insurance seek their healthcare at ERs when their health problems are out of control and much more costly than they would be if they had decent preventive care enabled by a public option. Furthermore, they made no bones about wanting Obama, and hence the country, to fail. This hope was EXPLICITLY stated time and again by the GOP, including that smugsh*t Sen. McConnell as well as Boehner. Now I ask you, sir, who has the interests of the middle class in mind when they hold the tax cuts for those earning less than a quarter of a million dollars hostage to tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? What mystifies me is how the GOP is able to convince so many sheep their detriment. Oh wait...I know the answer to that...Faux News, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Glen Beck and an uneducated electorate too lazy to think for themselves. President Obama and the democrats had better hold firm to decoupling these tax cuts and announcing the results AD NAUSEUM when the GOP vote AGAINST extension of the middle class tax cuts. Ditto their vote against extending unemployment benefits which could be paid for over and over again by letting the high end tax cuts expire on Dec. 31st as planned. And BTW, what is the thinking of the "national security" party in voting against ratification of the START treaty? Well I think we all know it has to do with only one thing...defeating Obama...and they are willing to risk our national security to do so. So much for their patriotism!!

Posted by: BJHAre | November 20, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

By March or April of 2009 it was obvious that the Republicans were dead set against any progress on health care. It was obvious to any blind and deaf person. So, when Obama set his (first) deadline, he should have also sat the Democratic members of Congress and spelled out what he expected to sign (in July of 2009). Instead he let deadline after deadline pass. That means that what the President says is just political posturing.

What he should do NOW is very simple:

1. Insist that the current Congress pass a bill that makes the current tax rates on income below $250,000 permanent;

2. Insist that the current Congress pass a bill that provides for unemployment insurance on a permanent basis to all unemployed till the rate falls below 7%.

Talk about these every day and demand why anyone would want to add $700billion to the debt, and ignore that human needs are going un-addressed. Every day.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | November 22, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Seems like all you want him to do is the same thing George Bush was doing......push his agenda, this gets boring folks, how about some real bi-partisan law making, and I don't mean by two votes either America is tired of this crap!

Posted by: acrittersr | November 22, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

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