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Bipartisanship as possible incumbent protection program

The theme of President Obama's surprise visit to the White House press briefing room yesterday was bipartisanship. That's not terribly surprising. It's one of his core principles, believe it or not. But his mantra is taking on new significance in the wake of the Massachusetts special election and the new Washington Post/ABC News poll out today. The American people want Democrats and Republicans, especially Republicans, in Washington to quit the bickering and solve the serious problems they face.

As the exit polls showed after the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), "Three-quarters of those who voted for Brown say they would like him to work with Democrats to get Republican ideas into legislation in general." Today's poll reports that "Nearly six in 10 [respondents] say that Republicans are not doing enough to forge compromise with Obama on important issues, while nearly half view the president as doing too little to overcome differences with the GOP."

"Now, bipartisanship depends on a willingness among both Democrats and Republicans to put aside matters of party for the good of the country," Obama said yesterday. "I won't hesitate to embrace a good idea from my friends in the minority party, but I also won't hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that's rooted not in substantive disagreements but in political expedience." He added later, "Bipartisanship can't be that I agree to all the things that they believe in or want, and they agree to none of the things I believe in and want."

The president must keep up his bipartisan lashing. It's good for the country if it finally gets Democrats and Republicans to work together. And there is benefit for those up for reelection in the November midterms. According to the poll, "Almost half of all poll respondents characterize their mood as generally "anti-incumbent..." and that "Two-thirds of independents say they would like to look around...." Surely that's because they think incumbents aren't getting anything done. Imagine what would happen if lawmakers had real accomplishments to show the electorate.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 10, 2010; 8:27 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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It is too late for Obama and the Democrats!! They went all in over healthcare and lost!!

They failed and now Obama wants to share the failure??

Posted by: jjcrocket2 | February 10, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the bipartisanship idea. I vote Democratic sometimes because I think many of the social programs are needed to help those less fortunate...sometimes the low-tax ideas appeal to me that the GOP put forth.

On Health Care....I have a darn good plan...but the premiums and co-pays go up every year while the level of service stays the same or declines. I'd like both parties to gather some good ideas and fix this.

On Oil....I want oil to be cheaper, but I don't want to depend on it forever. Both parties, come together and fix this.

On protecting America...I don't want us to save the world or nation build every year, but I DO want terrorists and other countries to know they will be in bad shape should they mess with us. Both parties...make it happen.

On the banks...make loans affordable for small homebuyers with safe loans, extend credit, and don't take gambles on derivatives that could ruin the economy. Both parties...make that happen.

On Taxes, don't kill me....but if we need to pay for roads, bridges, and programs for the elderly, vets, or the it. Both parties make it happen.

Posted by: mrmagoo066 | February 10, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Obama's campaign promise to enter a new era of bipartisanship was, incidentally, George W. Bush's platform in 2000. Remember compassionate conservatism?

The truth of the matter is that Obama doesn't appear to be interested in bipartisanship. In 2007, Obama voted with his fellow Democrats 97 percent of the time. In 2006, his score was 96, and in 2005, he again netted a 97 percent rating (see MSNBC article on "What Obama's Senate Votes Reveal").

Until he starts walking the walk, Americans have every right to be skeptical of Obama's latest "overture". For our country's sake, I hope he's actually sincere this time.

Posted by: diehardlib | February 10, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

In just this short piece, it's demonstrated that Obama isn't acting in good faith.

What's new here?


Mr. PostPartisian had decided after more than a year to try the gimmick (read rhetoric) of bipartisianship? Right!

Posted by: Cdgaman | February 10, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

jj: your post illustrates the problem. it's not about which party won and which party lost. when that happens, we all lose. When Clinton decided to go with republicans on welfare reform, it happened. If we do nothing on health care reform for another 4 years, we all lose, because another 10 million will lose health insurance when their employers drop it or drop them because it's unaffordable. I think Obama actually means that he will listen to anything that covers more people and starts to reduce costs. If Republicans just want to stop him from accomplishing anything, that will become obvious pretty soon. If they help, there will be more than enough glory to go around. Obama will obviously get some credit for the accomplishment of anything on the health care front, but republicans will claim that they saved the world from Obamacare by helping forge a good product. Gambling over who would score more points in the midterms by blocking everything is destructive. It appears that some republicans have figured that out and are taking a more adult and statesmanlike position.

We all need to root for this to work.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 10, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Obama has a habit of acting as though he wants to reach out and be bipartisan -- then he immediately follows with his usual tongue lashings.

Posted by: mafox1 | February 10, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Right on, JoeT1. I want BOTH parties to get something done.

Posted by: mrmagoo066 | February 10, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Cdgaman: which part of Obama's statement demonstrates bad faith, exactly? the part where he says that bipartisanship isn't about you getting everything and us getting nothing?

Obama responded to the republican "preconditions" letter (which itself was something short of wonderful faith and read like it was a setup for a bunch of excuses not to show up) by agreeing to the major demand - that he be willing to start from scratch on health care reform.

If you want to try not to be bipartisan because you think you can score cheap political points given the mood of the country, it will always be easy enough to spin the facts to support you. If you want to rise above it, as some republicans appear to be entertaining, well, that's to be applauded, and I applaud it.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 10, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I supported Obama. His attempts at bipartisanship were welcome at first, but with the total lack of reciprocity it's become a joke. He's showing a total inability to learn from experience. Like some dumb kid who keeps leaning on a hot stove, it's totally lost its entertainment value.

Posted by: IGiveup1 | February 10, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Ironically the election of Scott Brown was better for Pres. Obama and his agenda because it put the burden back on The Repblicans to help govern. And it has given them a way back off the ledge of Limbaugh Palinism.
Sadly The Republicans have been terrified as a party, by the unmatched and unprecedented power of this unchecked talk show host, Mr. Limbaugh. He is the main source of partisanship and polarization in the country today.
Never in American history has one man wielded so much unregulated, raw power over a major political party and the thus
the American people and nations abroad.
It is scary and dangerous. He is unelected unaccountable and unbound by any force except God Almighty. Plus factually he does not have the educational qualifications to teach in elementary school let alone to dictate to the nation on governace. Thus we are getting a modern form of nativist know nothingism.
Scott Brown looks like a good and smart guy. He is bound by manhood to carry out the late Ted Kennedy's wishes in filling out 'his' term, as he is honorable.
That means he is on a major collision couse with the 'all powerful' Mr. Limbaugh. If he slays this roaring dragon,of nullification, he will go on to be reelected in 12' and stand to be the nominee in 16'.
If not he will be quickly forgot.
The hope is that with his election Bipartisanship is alive and well.

Posted by: empireport | February 10, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

This would have never happened if the vote in Mass. had gone the other way. Now BO wants to see if he can gain points by acting as if he can work with the reps. How stupid does he think the American public is? He will talk to the other side but will not take any of their recommendations and call it bipartisianship. In a pigs eye.

Posted by: dy19spider57 | February 10, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I think it is quite obvious to the casual observer that the President wants the GOP to surrender and then call whatever positive legislative action that benefits the Democrats 'bipartisan'. This strategy is shallow and doomed to fail.

Posted by: baseballguy2001 | February 10, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

bipartisanship. it's just another reason to give in to the bullies on the playground and pretend that dems are taking the higher ground.

screw that. it's time to throw bricks, rocks, stones and whatever to finally get the bullies under control. republicans beat the dems under submission under bush and now they are using psychology to browbeat dems when they have control.

fight back and use whatever is left of the media to get the message out that republicans have nothing to offer but no. do something. hit back hard. otherwise, you will continue to be the smart, wimpy effete, latte-swilling privi-lites they think you are!

Posted by: glenknowles | February 10, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

It's not going to work, no matter what Obama is up to, because the American people have already seen the REAL Obama, and they don't like him. He's an actor, and he seems to believe that he can continue to make the American people suspend disbelief. Sounds like someone with an Ivy League degree. Well, the little people with their "state university" degrees are going to vote him and his gang out of office.

Posted by: georges2 | February 10, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

What do you republicans want? Most of you just whine about how nothing gets done and then when the president calls for bipartisanship and actually tries to reach across the isle to engage the republicans, you all cry foul. Do you really give a damn about this country if you will just stick it to Obama for the next three years until you can seize back power and control? That stinks people. And you call yourselves patriots? You can bicker at Obama for trying to work with republicans and continue to obstruct so that nothing gets done, or you can get pass your own anger and pettiness so that all of us can truly benefit from this government. Fat chance. And you blame government? Look at yourselves people.

Posted by: goldpitt | February 10, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

baseballguy and spider: how, exactly, do you know that Obama doesn't mean what he is saying? He's surely smart enough to know that if he tries either stunt you suggest he will look like a fool. If he does, he will deserve to look like a fool. Republicans appear to be taking him at his word. why not you? your attitude makes accomplishing anything impossible and just continues the political calculation that blocking anything Obama proposes even if we sponsored it will gain us a couple seats in the midterm.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 10, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Obama is several years late to major in bi-partisanship. As a senator when he did vote, invariably he voted AGAINST George Bush. He was rated as the most liberal senator not voting frequently. Now as he is on the receiving end of partisan voting he is all in favor of working together. Unfortunately, the man is shallow, two faced and false hearted.

Posted by: albee703 | February 10, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

How many different ways can the WAPO print another, "We Just Don't Get It" dissertation? Apparently, we're not going to find out anytime soon. Keep up the great work, WAPO!!! Your making the Republicans the 2010 mid-term winners by simple abdication of reason and common sense. The phrase "descending into confabulation" rings so true here.

Posted by: MDDem1 | February 10, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

goldpitt is right. Obama could give McConnell a pen, tell him to write any health care reform bill he wants, and McConnell would get his party to oppose it just to spite Obama. They have already blocked legislation they sponsored, just because they didn't want it with Obama as president.

Now he tries again to get Republicans to contribute and you want to gripe some more? You don't sound like you would be happy unless Obama resigned.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 10, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

What bipartisanship?

"Here's our 3000 page corrupt POS health care bill laden with pork, taxes and more spending. Take it or leave it America!" B Obama.

That's not bipartisanship. That's BShip!

Posted by: Patriot12 | February 10, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Bipartisan? Please, Obama did not even attempt it while he still had 60 votes. Not that it helped him. He's not interested in bipartisanship as much as he is in making the GOP surrender or look bad.

Posted by: dcsubguy | February 10, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Dear Barry:
Please climb in the box with Murtha and drag Rahm, David, Val, Nancy and Harry with you. I have ordered Chris over at MSNBC to start the revival of a true comrade, Van Jones, to continue my agenda to totally transform America.


Center for American Prostrate

P.S. Marxist make better lovers

Posted by: GeoSoros | February 10, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it would be "good for the country" if Al Queda SUDDENLY surrendered and admitted the error of its' ways. I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: mikelemm | February 10, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Do the Republicans seem to be buying the plea for bipartisanship? It isn't working.

This about politics, not Emily Post. In my opinion, Obama should have started out from day 1 blaming the Republicans for the messes they left behind, and then invited them to pitch in and help clean up.

Posted by: donnolo | February 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

dcsubguy: Obama did ask for republican support. there were even a couple repubs who tried to play until they were reigned in. republicans were ordered to oppose the bill no matter what it said. it's only because no repubs would play that Obama had to mess with Nelson and Lieberman and Landrieu extorting stuff for their districts because he needed all 60. He has never said take it or leave it.

Repubs have said we will say no no matter what it says. a previous post is right, with 41 votes, Repubs can't lie about being excluded anymore, because they have to be included. So it's time for them to put up or shut up. If Obama doesn't listen, he will look bad. If Republicans don't offer anything but no, they will. new ballgame.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 10, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

We all know that bipartisanship is needed, and that we are suffering from the lack of it.

But the Republicans declared last year that their intention was to oppose anything Obama offered, and to make health care his "Waterloo." Not only do they have a plan, they have no incentive to deviate from the plan.

While we might disagree about the "meaning" of recent one-off elections, the lessons the GOP drew from them was that their intransigence was working.

Posted by: thmas | February 10, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to "loyal opposition"?

Why should one political party accept the policies of another if they believe they are flawed and harmful?

Those who shrink from debate and argument should watch UK’s Question Period in Parliament. Tough, sarcastic comments are thrown in the face of the Prime Minister and he has to respond, not through a “spokesman”, but on the spot.

I don’t think any of our “leaders” could handle that fierce debate.

Now when the Dems are in trouble, they want to lash Republicans to them to cushion their fall.

Involvement and debate?

Hell, they didn’t even let their own members into the Pelosi-Reid Politburo as they put together a Health Care bill based on special interests.

I don’t want Republicans to “go along, to get along”. I want them to fight and oppose the flawed bills that rise from the sink hole that is the Pelosi-Reid-Obama Democrat party.

A Patriot proclaimed these words in 2003 and they are still valid.

"I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we're Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration!"

--Hillary Clinton, April 2003

Bipartisanship be Damned.

Posted by: jgfox39 | February 10, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

By 2:1, Americans want healthcare reform. By 2:1, Americans blame Republicans more than Democrats for failure thus far. This is in spite of all the whining and obstruction from the Republicans and the yelling and falsehoods from the Tea Party. Pay attention, quit your yelling and complaining, and do some work!

Posted by: DavidH3 | February 10, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama has tried bipartisanship for the last year with little results. In the healthcare bill, there are things that were added from republican ideas, including ability to buy policies across state lines, and the ability for states to opt out of the plan. Still, no republicans voted for the bill.

Also, Capehart, there were no exit polls done in Mass. The polls were done by phone after the election.

Posted by: jake14 | February 10, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

It is not correct to assume that Obama controls the Democratic congress. The congressional Democrats are just as obstinate as the Republicans, if not more so. They have enjoyed their large majority and have eschewed bipartisanship almost as much as the lock-step Republicans. The election in Mass is a good thing for Obama, because now he can gain some leverage over his own party. The Senate Democrats must now talk to the Republicans if they want to accomplish anything, and the Republicans must begin to look like real legislators or be perceived as mere obstructionists.

Posted by: wjssparky | February 10, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

goldpitt said:
" -- - when the president calls for bipartisanship and actually tries to reach across the isle to engage the republicans, you all cry foul."

1. Obama promised bipartisanship and C-Span coverage on health care.
2. He allowed closed-door discussion and bribes instead.
3. The public disapproved and now WITH A FOOT ON HIS HEAD he's ready to "keep his word".
4. Trust nim? About like a rattlesnake.

Posted by: Billw3 | February 10, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Trying to be bipartisan with people whose only objective is to make you fail is bordering on insanity. The republicans, blue dog democrats, and traitor joe liberemann types are the problem. They'll never respect nor cooperate with President Obama. It's not in their DNA....... The President will lose his base if he keep on catering to these traitors, hypocrits, racists, thugs, etc....

Posted by: rjam | February 10, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Bipartisanship is a joke -- it's just a catch phrase. It really means the other side gives up their point-of-view and accepts my position.

The question is whether there is a basis for compromise -- not bipartisan ship.

And I don't hear anything from the President about compromise.

Posted by: davidphimes | February 10, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Obama is like a spoiled arrogant brat that threw his food on the floor. Now he has to pick it up and eat it.

Posted by: Billw3 | February 10, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse


good points... but it ain't happenin...

the past few days, several bloggers and pundits have been running down the list of republicans who badmouthed the stimulus bill, refused to vote for it, but showed up in their districts to brag, have ribbon cuttings, and tout the number of jobs it will create.

This after they claimed it was done without their input, and that they had not even read it.

Many, many examples available... republicans lying to the American people...

their most recent act of cowardice is to jump on the Teabagger bandwagon after they've admitted their racist intent.

There's no telling how they think they'll win any national office anywhere with no blacks or Hispanics trusting them to do anything.

I think its the beginning of conservatives who are honest, and the end of republicans in every shape of the word.

Posted by: dutchess2 | February 10, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse


Such faint heart!

Every day a few thousand more get larger premium bills on health insurance... one in CA just raised their rates 39%. Every day republicans prove they care less about the people and the country than they are about their own contributions from those raping citizens with price gouges and refusals of service.

Every day more minorities are offended by their racist crap. You should see the republicans jumping on the Teabagging bandwagon to opt for literacy tests for voters!

They have no shame.

Posted by: dutchess2 | February 10, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a true statesman in an America filled with self interested politians.

Posted by: chucky-el | February 10, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

jgfox39: what's your point? republicans are supposed to argue, debate, and all that, no one is suggesting that there's something wrong with doing exactly what Hillary was saying was OK for dems to do while Bush was pres. That's not the subject. Repubs aren't doing anything but saying no. They even admitted that it didn't matter what Obama proposed, they were going to oppose it just to spite Obama and make sure he couldn't get credit for health care reform no matter how much they liked the bill. They actually said that - you can look it up. That's not a loyal opposition. A loyal opposition speaks its mind. Republicans won't even tell us what they want, for fear Obama would say yes.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

My fellow Americans. When will we as a country begin to discuss solutions to our problems together instead of choosing sides. Instead of jabbing at each other's known faults, let's rise above it and focus on the direction of our country's economy, health care, infrastructure re-development, and sources of reusable energy. Each day we don't confront these issues is another lost opportunity that we will be judged by. Sitting on our hands and pointing fingers is easy. Let the pundits do that. Let's let our represenatives in Congress know that the time for speeches has passed. What we seek between now and November is action and deeds.

Posted by: classicskins | February 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Headline -- Bipartisanship as possible incumbent protection program

Article -- "[Bipartisanship] is one of his core principles, believe it or not."


duchess2 wrote: "You should see the republicans jumping on the Teabagging bandwagon to opt for literacy tests for voters!"

Judging by their protest signs, asking for a literacy/civics test could very well backfire.

Posted by: wizard2 | February 10, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The democrats control the house and the senate. The house has a bill and got the majority vote to pass it. The senate, through bribes, has a bill and got all 60 senators to pass it. To rush the process, the senate wanted to house to vote for the senate bill and fix whatever needs fixed later. Pelosi said she did not have the votes to do that. Will someone explain how anyone -- democrat, republican or independent --- can blame the republicans for Obama not getting his health care bill passed?

Posted by: mafox1 | February 10, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

If the Republicans don't want to be part of the solution - it sounds like they are part of the problem.

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 10, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

jgfox39 said:
"Bipartisanship be Damned."

Right! Obama has fibbed quite a bit, note. Therefore we must me careful of associating with him.

Posted by: Billw3 | February 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

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