Jonathan Favreau, who in February stepped down as Obama’s chief speechwriter, said that dealing with the Republican Party’s reflexive opposition is a pervasive reality in the White House. “People take a very realistic approach to it,” he said. “They’re not frustrated or upset. It’s more, ‘This is just the way things are and this is how we’ll deal with it.’ The strategy always comes to ‘What gives us the best chance to get something passed?’”
That process begins with taking Congress’s temperature. “If it looks like there’s a path to something passing, then, as in immigration reform, he’s got to step back,” Favreau said. That doesn’t mean Obama has to keep mum. But he does have to keep himself out of the headlines. “All of our immigration speeches have been very toned down,” noted Favreau.
Again, there's nothing surprising about this. Obama was quite up-front about leading from behind (or, to work with a metaphor he used, from the side) when he started down the long doomed trail of negotiating a grad bargain on deficit reduction in early 2011. The problem is, it's never worked. Even with the gentlest of coaxing and the Jackie Robinsonesque rhetorical restraint Obama deployed in the long hot debt ceiling-shadowed summer of 2011 (before starting to hit Republicans by name again after the disastrous Budget Control Act passed in August of that year), the GOP House can't be induced to pass any bill with a modicum of balance between their own desiderata (a militarized border, savage cuts to domestic spending) and those of the other party.
After two years of this nonsense, I'm at least emotionally ready for a Democratic Chris Christie or Jan Brewer. Imagine if Obama proclaimed that he would veto any and all spending bills that didn't shut off the sequester. That would entail at least threatening to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment or issue platinum coins to take the debt ceiling off the table. Perhaps the time has come.
Pulping the bully approach to presidential politics, V
Pulping the bully approach to presidential politics, IV
Pulping the bully approach to presidential politics, III
Pulping the bully approach to presidential politics, cont.
Pulping the bully approach to presidential politics
Obama, the bully pulpit, and the battleship