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Some folks criticized the over emphasis on bipartisanship by the Obama administration early in the effort to get the stimulus bill passed.  Well, it looks like Rahm Emmanuel and, presumably, the President, agree that it was a mistake:

In an interview with reporters, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
conceded President Barack Obama and his team lost control of the message for selling their massive stimulus bill last week, fixating on bipartisanship while Republicans were savaging the legislation.


But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.

He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.

Wall Street Journal

More, after the fold.

Emanuel said they lost control of the message for four days:

Emanuel conceded that the White House "lost" four days of the clash, but said it was because Obama focused too much on bipartisanship at the expense of talking up the benefits of the still-emerging proposal.

Miami Herald

Yes, playing up bipartisanship was not three-dimensional chess, a great Machiavilian plan.  No, Rahm concedes it was a mistake:

Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.

Wall Street Journal

They adapted, though, when it appeared to be getting away from them:

But in a wide ranging interview with reporters, Mr. Emanuel said the president's travels across the country this week have shored up support for the $789 billion measure. He strongly defended the young Obama administration against charges that its opening weeks have been amateurish and mistake-prone.

Wall Street Journal

President Obama and his staff, including Rahm, learned from the mistake:

But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.

He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.

Wall Street Journal

I'd much rather have a White House that learns from mistakes and adapts than to project fantasies of all knowingness on the President.

Short Rahm: we screwed up a bit, but we learned and the end result is fine.

In three weeks, the president has secured what Mr. Emanuel called the most sweeping single piece of economic legislation ever, extended health insurance to 11 million children, righted a clear wrong by making it easier for women to sue for wage discrimination, and reoriented U.S. foreign and environmental policy with his orders to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, end torture, and allow states to pursue higher fuel economy standards to combat climate change.

Wall Street Journal

It's a good start.  Now let's keep up the pressure, knowing the bipartisanship is not possible with more than 90% of the modern Republican Party.  [meaning that at most, only 10% of the republcian party Congress folks are even reachable.  90% will fight to destroy our economy and nation]   Seat Franken and fight for one or 2 Rs to stop filibusters.  And make them filibuster everything.  Let the American people see the obstructionists the Republicans are.

They are like arsonists who burned the house down and then stay to block the firefighters from putting the fire out.

Update I: From kitty in the comments.  The conclusion from Politico's article:

Translation: Yes, the president will continue to do obligatory outreach to the GOP, but he’s not going to be burned again by an out-of-power and toothless minority for the sake of appearances.

I like that conclusion.  I don't expect President Obama and his administration to be perfect and I fully expect to disagree on policies from time to time.  But what I want and like is a willingness to learn.  Events will force Obama left, if he is open to empirical data.  This shows he is.  When they make mistakes, they adapt.  That is so important.

Update II: From Politico, which often is right wing, based from the same interview by reporters with Rahm Emanuel:

For Obama’s next act, the program is the same as he has been planning for months: New Deal-style plans to rescue struggling homeowners and rewrite regulations on the financial markets, plus a budget proposal that lays the groundwork for sweeping health care reform.

But the strategy to promote these items is getting an emergency overhaul. Obama plans to travel more and campaign more in an effort to pressure lawmakers with public support, rather than worrying about whether he can win over Republican votes in Congress. Officials suggested that the new, more partisan tone Obama embraced last week in his speech before House Democrats at their retreat and continued at his news conference Monday was what he should have been doing all along.


I like the direction and the tactics.  In addition, Presdient Obama this week again pledged his support for the Employee Free Choice Act:

Labor officials are "VERY pleased" with statements made by President Barack Obama on the Employee Free Choice Act during a sit down interview with 15 regional papers on Wednesday.

The president, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, "said he believes there is no economic risk to workers organizing and making a living wage."

The Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, quoted Obama as saying he didn't "buy the argument that providing workers with collective-bargaining rights somehow weakens the economy or worsens the business environment." Moreover, the paper reported that Obama "would not urge a delay in consideration of the Employee Free Choice Act."

Huff Po: Obama's Remarks On Employee Free Choice Act Make Labor "Very Pleased"

To the barricades!!  President Obama will need all of us to enact the changes we need.  Left progressives and center progressives must ally to support these changes.

And it looks like it will be done by empowering the people.  That is key to a democratic rebirth in America.

Originally posted to TomP on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 08:37 AM PST.

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