Here are seven lessons the Democrats should take from the stimulus, culled from two dozen Politico interviews with the people who hammered out the deal:Well reported. "House Republicans are furniture" is a nice way of putting it, though I prefer some kinkier reference to how they are now property of the nice lady from San Francisco. In any case, it's good to see that everybody knows the score.
1. House Republicans are furniture
Over and over, Nancy Pelosi and her allies privately delivered the same message to Barack Obama: Mr. President, you can have bipartisanship or you can have a stimulus bill, but you can’t have both.
He seems to have gotten the message. House Republicans, badly outnumbered and shorn of let's-make-a-deal moderates by their losses in the two elections, have proven remarkably immune to crossover appeals, as have most GOP senators.
On Thursday, Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s point man, told reporters that his boss was still committed to bipartisanship, but admitted something fundamental had changed when the GOP “shift[ed] from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery.”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) put it more bluntly — blaming much of the week’s drama on Obama’s commitment to courting House Republicans, even after it was apparent they wanted to cast a unanimous nay as a point of partisan pride and principle.
"I don't think he should have set the expectation he was going to get Republican votes," the Financial Services chairman told Politico on Friday. "He set himself a high bar — and an irrelevant bar… and he didn't achieve it… He should not have legitimized [the notion of bipartisanship], that prompted their partisan reaction... I don't think he's going to make that mistake again."
One Democrat likened Obama’s desire to score even a single GOP defector to Abraham’s pursuit of a “single virtuous man” in Sodom and Gomorrah.
After Friday’s stimulus shutout, House Republicans were snickering at Obama’s courtship of moderate Michigan GOPer Fred Upton, who got an invite to the president’s Super Bowl party and a ride on Air Force One – and still voted no.
“The president learned a lesson,” one GOP aide quipped. “Fred’s going to ride on your plane, eat your M&Ms, but he ain’t going to vote for your bill.”
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
No More M&Ms
We can debate whether Obama really expected the House GOP to vote for his stimulus bill, or if that was all part of some clever gambit to make all observers aware that they were a death cult who should be put to the flame by rational men. In any event, that fact has been noticed by all participants and the media. Here's Glenn Thrush of Politico: