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Ryan Lizza writes:

[T]the fact that Barack Obama now so appreciates the limits of his office and his lack of Jedi powers is rich with irony. As I’ve written about before, the premise of Obamaism— from his famous convention speech in 2004, through his primary challenge to Hillary Clinton, in 2008, right up until the later half of his first term—was that Obama was a politician uniquely suited to transform American politics by breaking through the polarization in Washington and bringing the two parties together.

Obama’s theme of post-partisanship and unity as a substitute for political ideology has always had its critics. Sean Wilentz, writing in The New Republic, in 2011, noted that:

Obama had arrived on the national stage, after all, with his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 proclaiming that there was “not a liberal America and a conservative America—there’s the United States of America.”

As president, Obama would not only reach across the aisle, listen to the Republicans, and credit their good ideas, but also demonstrate that the division between the parties was exaggerated if not false, as many Americans, younger voters above all, fervently believed. Divisive and hot-tempered partisanship would give way to healing and temperate leadership, not least by means of Obama’s eloquence, rational policies, and good faith.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. In reviewing the history of the politics of post-partisanship, Wilentz argues that Presidents who have used post-partisanship as merely a rhetorical device have been more successful than those who truly believed in the idea.
Needless to say indeed. But it was said, repeatedly by me and others.

I think this post captured what I was saying pretty well:

[T]he question is do [the High Broderists] really believe a President Obama will be able to wave a magic wand and make the Republicans play nice? And if not, how exactly do they expect a President Obama to achieve change?
One of the major changes I think we have seen in President Obama since August 2011 (the debt ceiling crisis debacle) is his acceptance that the Post Partisan Unity Schtick failed. We have seen a President willing to engage in the battle of ideas instead of trying to be the referee.

Will this reap dividends in his second term? Perhaps not, but it certainly puts the ideas in a better political position in the future, be it in this term or Presidential terms to follow.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The "Shtick" Was Useful In That It Highlighted (5+ / 0-)

    Beyond any shadow of any doubt that the parties are indeed quite different, and that in fact one of the parties, the GOP, is batshit insane.

    Whether this was Obama's intent or not, or if he truly believed he could transcend politics, I suppose only he knows.  The results however are that the GOP's motives and intent are now laid bare for anyone who is willing to look and see.  

    Whether this could have been done some other way is also unknowable, but it is what it is and the results are what they are. Hopefully the message will be lasting and deep and the GOP will suffer the consequences of their now crystal clear malignancy.

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: []

    by Beetwasher on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 08:56:36 AM PST

  •  failures of both Parties became more (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Armando, chuckvw

    Apparent; WH, too. But Citizens United may have killed more than good balance in campaign funneling. The awful overfunded and unchallenged ideologies and tax policies and tiered Justice have ruined much; almost incalculable.

    Monsanto is poison, they gotta be stopped.

    by renzo capetti on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 09:41:44 AM PST

  •  Obama has to know by now (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Armando, 3goldens

    that the only way anything will get done in his second term is if the GOP is bludgeoned in 2014 and loses control of the House.

    Obama assumed the mere fact of his re-election would be enough to chastise Republicans into submission and has been somewhat shocked to discover otherwise.

    Nothing short of an existential threat to Republican House members will shut down the drunken frat party the GOP has become.

  •  What will he do now? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm almost afraid to ask that since it's not Obama who is in charge of the conversation but it's quite obvious we are having the wrong conversation.

    "Information is power. But like all power there are those who want to keep it for themselves" Aaron Swartz, 1986 - 2013

    by TheMomCat on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 10:11:02 AM PST

  •  You have seen this ... where? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, 3goldens
    We have seen a President willing to engage in the battle of ideas instead of trying to be the referee.
    Can you give some examples ?
    •  Guns and gay marriage (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, Willa Rogers

      But nothing that meaningfully addresses the five years of economic crisis many, many people have faced and continue to endure, because that would have imposed unavoidable cost on financiers and corporations. It would also have required a fight, not to mention a passionate, principled desire to improve the lot of all Americans.

      There are no products on the economics shelf in the Obama policy boutique that weren't approved by the neoliberal Village consensus.

      Obama could have been a great president in a time of bitter national hardship. Instead, in three years he will be just another filthy rich ex-politician.

      But no worries. Soon enough neoliberal Hillary will be the second coming... or third... or something... And we will be enjoined to shut up because, you know, the election.

      The law, in its majestic equality, gives the rich as well as the poor the right to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to eat dumpster donuts. - With apologies to Anatole France

      by chuckvw on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 10:41:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You could have properly (0+ / 0-)

    declared victory on this issue ages ago. Right around the time Obama was negotiating with former President Snowe over how best to reduce an already inadequate stimulus. (And, of course, you did.)

    Not by accident, President Boehner is more difficult to accommodate.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 03:55:23 PM PST

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