There's a tricky new talking point making the rounds, and it is this: the Republicans' blatant obstructionism is President Obama's failure at bipartisanship. The American people, according to this meme, are getting upset that Barack Obama just can't seem to get Republicans in Congress to like his policies. Only in our twisted beltway culture could anyone believe that this is true. Let's look at the reality of John McCain, the 2008 election, and the real issues that led to the Democratic sweep.
Huffington Post has an article today detailing former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee critisizing President Obama for the Republicans in the House and Senate's refusal to support the economic recovery bill. Chafee is quoted as saying:
The whole appeal of the Obama candidacy was post-partisan
Was that really the whole appeal? What really was going on way back then during the election?
Chafee's own endorsement of Barack Obama was reported by the New York Times in February 2008. Here's what Chaffee had to say:
I believe Senator Obama is the best candidate to restore American credibility, to restore our confidence to be moral and to bring people together to solve the complex issues such as the economy, the environment and global stability
Post-partisanship? Not mentioned. Chafee mentions bringing people together, but snarkiness aside he doesn't mention Republicans. Sure the Congress is made up of people, but there are a whole lot of people outside of Washington that President Obama has been bringing together. He is bringing in experts and listening to a wide range of opinions on the economy, healthcare, counter-terrorism, diplomacy, science, you know, the things that are important to our future. Making House Republicans happy? Not so important.
If we wanted bipartisanship, why elect Barack Obama anyway? What about those other two, the self-described mavericks John McCain and Sarah Palin? Obama was the most liberal Senator of 2007. McCain, on the other hand, ran full out on his bipartisan cred.
[H]is work alongside Democrats is what McCain is best known for, whether it's teaming up with Sen. Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform, working with Sen. Joe Lieberman on global warming, or as part of the "Gang of 14" senators — both Democrats and Republicans — to broker a compromise on President Bush's judicial nominations
[McCain] has made his willingness to cross the political aisle a central theme in his campaign for the White House in an era when voters are plainly tired of partisan gridlock in the nation's capital.
Sen. John McCain's record of working with Democrats easily outstrips Sen. Barack Obama's efforts with Republicans, according to an analysis by The Washington Times of their legislative records.
There are three examples from a quick google search. The "liberal" media overwhelmingly agreed that John McCain's record of bipartisanship was far superior.
So why did the people elect not just Barack Obama, but also an overwhelming majority of Democratic Congressmen and Senators? The economy, stupid. 62% of voters told exit pollers that the economy was their top issue, the highest percentage since 1980.
Nearly all voters agreed the economy was in poor shape. Eight in 10 said they were worried the economic crisis would harm their family’s future, while about half said they were "very worried." At least four in 10 said their family's financial situation worsened since 2004. And a stunning two-thirds expressed concern about affording health care.
The people voted in the last election for someone to fix the economy, and they voted for Democrats. Ergo, the people trust Democrats to fix the economy. It might be nice to have more votes on the stimulus bill, but I can't imagine why I should care. We want healthcare reform, we want economic solutions, we want jobs and security and peace. If the Republicans want to come along with the majority, then we'll have bipartisanship. If not, I'm certainly not going to shed a tear over it. And neither will any other American who voted for Barack Obama, and a whole lot of Americans who didn't. So squash this meme. We elected Barack Obama to solve problems, not to play games with the embittered opposition.