Kabuki: “He is dining with Republicans after advisers openly mocked suggestions that he do so. He is visiting Capitol Hill after telling aides that such a gesture was beneath him and the dignity of his office. And, as an ultimate indignity, he is talking to reporters. What’s gotten into President Obama?”, asks Ron Fournier in the National Journal:
“This is a joke. We’re wasting the president’s time and ours,” complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. “I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we’re doing it for you.”
Another said the president was sincerely trying to find common ground with stubborn Republicans. “But if we do it,” the aide hastened, “it won’t be because we had steaks and Merlot with a few senators.”
It takes exceptionally talented and self-confident people to run a White House, and there is no shortage of both attributes in the West Wing today. But resounding re-election victories have a way of converting confidence into hubris that no amount of talent can overcome.
This may have been the case with the Obama White House, which declared from the start of his second term that Republicans wouldn’t compromise – not on the president’s terms, anyway. Obama and his team declared a “grand bargain” on the nation’s long-term debt impossible and publicly predicted that voters would blame Republicans alone for the imposition of sequestration cuts.
They were wrong. While he remains vastly more popular than Congress, particularly congressional Republicans, the president has seen his approval rating drop to the lowest level in more than a year, with more voters disapproving of his performance than approving, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
The survey, which reflects other public and private polls, shows that voters are split on the question of who has the best approach to taming budget deficits, with 44 percent citing Congress and just 42 percent preferring Obama.
One of the reasons it’s kabuki theater is the legacy of Obama’s previous five years, beginning with his run on the campaign trail, of absolutely demonizing the very people whose help he needs now. As Stephen Hayes writes in the Weekly Standard, “it’s far to ask:”
Why should Republicans trust a man whose second Inaugural Address was a clarion call to greater government activism, whose State of the Union the New York Times described as a case for “closing out the politics of austerity,” who has previously demonstrated bad faith by fighting even modest reductions in spending growth, and whose second-term strategy so far has depended on casting Republicans as villains?
Republicans ought to proceed with caution.
Much more from Allahpundit at Hot Air, who adds:
O’s 2014 strategy is based, as all of his political strategies ultimately are, on hitting the trail and winning a popularity contest with the GOP that’ll lift House Democrats to victory on his coattails. But the thing is, he’s not winning — certainly not by the margin he’d need to flip 18 seats in a second-term midterm election. So maybe he’s looking at his “legacy” and grudgingly realizing that there’ll be no more Democratic Congresses to rubber-stamp his initiatives and that making some sort of deal with Republicans is his only chance to do something big before he leaves office. That’s part of the reason why I agree with Kaus in thinking that O’s not trying to sabotage the Gang of Eight immigration deal. If he kneecaps Rubio et al, he may not get another chance to pass it. And with each new failure lately, I think he realizes that more keenly. Might be better to reach a compromise on the budget now and then get back to demagoging Republicans on the trail over something else.
Shocking news, eh? Who knew that “You Can’t Community-Organize Your Way Out of a Sequester”?
Update: As Matt Drudge notes, “Obama’s charm offensive falters as Carney lashes out…” It’s accompanied by a hilarious stompy-foot photo of wannabe schoolmaster Carney.
More: It’s an MSM Charm Offensive Offensive!