President Obama shows us how to rise above petty partisan politics. Or not:
There may be plenty of reasons for Senate Democrats’ surprising failure last night to finish up last year’s federal government funding needs. But among other things, the White House has been strangely disengaged from a debate that has now put the Democrats on the defensive over all of the earmarks in the omnibus spending bill.
Case in point: As of yesterday, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, one of the leading critics of the earmarks in the bill, told me President Obama hadn’t called him to see what could be done about Coburn’s concerns. And neither had anyone else at the White House.
Why does that matter? Because Coburn is one of the few senators Obama worked with on significant issues during his short time in the Senate. Yes, their views are in direct conflict on most issues, but Obama did work with Coburn a lot on good-government issues — not just the 2006 law creating a database of federal spending, but contracting issues as well, such as cracking down on non-competitive contracts.
There may not be a wide range of senators who developed real working relationships with Obama, but Coburn is one of the ones who did. If there ever was an antagonist whom Obama should be able to just pick up the phone and call, Coburn should be one of them.
Of course, the bill failed and shouting ensued. Obama’s lack of leadership here is causing friction between the House and the Senate, and… well, honestly I couldn’t be happier.