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Should Obama Schmooze Republicans More?

Obama-Boehner-sour-2

Conor Friedersdorf turns the often-heard lament that President Obama would be more successful if he spent more time building personal relationships with Congressional Republicans on its head:

What I think about, whenever I read these stories, is what they say about Congress. Who are these shallow, frivolous legislators who’d change their votes on matters of great substance if only the president would butter them up with playdates?

After all, the premise behind the criticism is always that Obama is doing his agenda a significant disservice by failing to schmooze, not that it might help a bit in close cases. Washington, D.C., is awash in people who’ve publicly alleged as much. If these people know of legislators who behave this way, why not complain about them instead? Or at least call out their behavior in addition to Obama’s refusal to adapt to it. “This is the knowing talk on Wall Street, on K Street, on Capitol Hill, in green rooms—the ‘Morning Joe’ consensus,” Remnick writes.

Morning Joe has its share of reasonable, early-morning Washington commentary. And if they’re so sure this is a thing, they must know names. So how about it, folks? Why not do a segment on the legislators most notorious for changing their votes depending on the degree to which they’ve been buttered up? I’ll bet there are some great anecdotes floating around town on that subject. Let’s hear ‘em! Rather than just dinging people for failing to adapt to Washington pathologies, how about attacking the pathologies themselves this once?

While interesting in a Slate-pitch sort of way, I think Conor is arguing against a straw man here. The argument isn’t that Members would change their vote on key issues because they’d be star struck over dinner with the Big Dog or that they’re voting the way they are out of some sort of pique, but that relationships matter. It’s simply easier to build consensus when you see your opponents as real, decent human beings who want most of the same things you do and just differ on the best way to get there.

Obama has a reputation for being something of a cold fish but he’s also pretty clearly a decent fellow. And it’s conceivable that spending more time socializing with key Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle would make some of the over-the-top demagoguery that’s become more common in Washington.

Then again, the rise of the political warfare mindset, where ideological opponents even within the conservative wing of the Republican Party are treated as enemies rather than mere political rivals, may render this argument moot. The pressure from the Tea Party faction, both institutionally and at the grass roots level, may be so strong that the personal relationships between politicians in the Capitol just don’t matter. It’s hard to imagine something like the working relationship between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill being lauded today; instead, Reagan would be instantly labeled a RINO, if not a traitor, for daring to make compromises.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    At this point it doesn’t matter. Even if the President decided he would now put to use his copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, the stage for the rest of his administration is set. I’d suggest he not bother.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  2. al-Ameda says:

    If schmoozing means repealing ACA, or otherwise doing exactly what Republicans want, then I’m pretty sure that Republicans are open to it.

    Seriously, I’ve been following Washington politics closely since I was a college student, and I’ve never seen a group of politicians like current Republicans. These people reject normal courtesies and expressions of good will – so as not to be ‘infected’ by socializing with members of the opposite political party.

    On the other hand, perhaps many Republicans would be well-advised to get psychiatric counseling for their anger management problems?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 1

  3. legion says:

    No. The ideological point James ends with trumps everything else – it doesn’t matter what Obama does or how he does it, the GOP will oppose. They themselves declared it upon his election – their only purpose in DC is tear down anything he does, regardless of the impact on the US.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  4. gVOR08 says:

    About fracking time somebody said what Friedersdorf said. In any case, it takes two to tango.

    Frankly James. without even getting into the numerous Cruzes and Gohmerts and Foxxes; it is far less clear that the Boehners and McConnells and Ryans and Cantors are decent fellows. Has Obama ever said his number one priority was to get rid of Mitch McConnell? Has Boehner ever saved Obama’s job? Has Obama made a career of trying to repeal Cantor’s signature achievement? (Does he have one?)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 1

  5. Stonetools says:

    No. That’s DC inside the beltway conventional wisdom, and it’s been proven dead wrong. The President has launched numerous charm offensives, and they’ve all come to naught.
    Bottom line : committed ideologues aren’t going to vote against their beliefs or their political interests, no matter how nicely they’re asked or who does the asking.
    And for FFS sake, let’s bury forever the anecdotes of what Reagan or Tip O’Neill or LBJ did. We may as well be discussing what Themistocles or Cicero did. That’s all ancient history and it’s time to move on.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  6. grumpy realist says:

    No. SATSQ. President Obama might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, to mix metaphors. The Republican side isn’t going to play nicely no matter how he asks, so why bother? It just reinforces their opinion of him as a toady and lack-wit they can push around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  7. David M says:

    It’s wishful thinking by the people Conor Friedersdorf is criticizing. It’s a lot easier to say they should all sit down and compromise than it is to actually do real work.

    It’s the reporter’s job to find out the real reason they two sides don’t agree and then let people know what the result of the disagreement means. Unfortunately most straight reporters are not willing to do either of those, and mistakenly think they should be nothing more than stenographers for people with agendas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    It’s also never asked why Republicans don’t schmooze Obama more. If they want to win him over, why not, you know, win him over? Say something nice about him, send flowers to the Oval Office, whatever. Why does it have to be a one-way street?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You guys want to dance? Let us find a waltz. There is a word here that all of you are dancing around. Hells bells grumpy, @grumpy realist: . , why don’t you just come right out and say what a state Rep from Racist state, USA said just 2 days ago: Lynch him.

    We all know perfectly well what the hell is going on here and why all the Republicans are so desperate to avoid making a deal with Obama. They are every one of them scared to death to have the label of “n!gger lover” hung on them. And that is what they will be called. Not on the campaign trail or at a town meeting, but in the quiet conversations that only occur in the shadowed booths of the local taverns, or over the collective lunch pails on a job site, or in the corporate board meetings (no, they don’t say n!gger there, they say “socialist”, but we know what they mean).

    And no, I am not saying any one particular GOP Rep or Sen is racist, I am saying they are all following racist motives. The racist motives of their constituents.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  10. At the rate indictments are falling, there soon will be no one left of import to schmooze.

    Schism doesn’t want to be taken out to dinner. Schism wants to fight, and bitterly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. Gustopher says:

    I don’t know why anyone would hate Obama so much they would want to make him spend time with Republicans… The man has a hard enough job as it is.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    It’s simply easier to build consensus when you see your opponents as real, decent human beings who want most of the same things you do and just differ on the best way to get there.

    Right. Like the way Republicans got along so well with Bill Clinton, the ultimate glad-hander.

    James, your party is a collection of idiots, clowns, racists, sexists, war-mongers and unmedicated mental patients. Has been for a while and it’s only getting worse. There’s no talking to these people.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 3

  13. Jr says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, Clinton was good at this and he still got impeached.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  14. An Interested Party says:

    We all know perfectly well what the hell is going on here and why all the Republicans are so desperate to avoid making a deal with Obama. They are every one of them scared to death to have the label of “n!gger lover” hung on them. And that is what they will be called. Not on the campaign trail or at a town meeting, but in the quiet conversations that only occur in the shadowed booths of the local taverns, or over the collective lunch pails on a job site, or in the corporate board meetings (no, they don’t say n!gger there, they say “socialist”, but we know what they mean).

    Humph, it’ll be just as bad, if not worse, when a Democratic woman sits in the Oval Office…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  15. Stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    HCR is the classic example of why schmoozing doesn’t Work. Obama genuinely believed that the Republicans wanted the goal of HCR just as much as the Democrats. He thought the only difference was the method-liberals wanted single payer and conservatives wanted Romneycare-the mandate, exchanges, etc. So he caved and (much to the disgust of liberals) told Republicans, “You win, we’ll do Romneycare. We’ll give Big Pharma a sweetheart deal. We won’t even press for a public option.” What did he get for that?

    Not a single Republican vote.
    Endless demagoguery about how the Kenyan usurper won’t compromise and was ramming “Obamacare down our throats”.
    A massive resistance campaign not seen since the South resisted school integration in the 50s.

    The plain and simple fact is that the Republicans DON’T want the same things the Democrats do. There really are two Americas and RedAmerica actually does want to sh!t on the poor and browns, treat gays as subhuman, oppose sensible gun safety laws, and rule only for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Obama’s problem is that he didn’t see that at first and so he wasted time and political capital in the vain belief that Republicans wanted the same goals he did and that the only problem was ” process”. Unfortunately, the inside the Beltway media still believes that nonsense, which is why there is still talk of transcending ” partisan bickering” , how Reagan and Tip O’Neill used to sit down to dinner and how Obama needs to “lead.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    The Republicans made it clear from day one that they were out to destroy him and his presidency even if they had to destroy the country to do it. It has very little to do with ideology and nearly everything to do with Obama, The current crop of Republicans are not Americans but Republicans. There is simply no way that “personal relationships” could be built in that atmosphere.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  17. Steve V says:

    @legion: I second this. The GOP made clear no amount of schmoozing or persuasion would do any good before Obama even took office. The fact that they now complain that he doesn’t kiss their asses is just repugnant.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  18. Anonne says:

    Wishful thinking, James. He’s already done that and got him nowhere. They still trumpet lies of all stripes about him and defend the indefensible. He could come out in support of oxygen and they’d want to choke themselves just to spite him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  19. Kylopod says:

    @Stonetools: I have to differ with your explanation for HCR. Single-payer was never on the table and hadn’t been for over a generation. None of Obama’s chief rivals for the nomination–Hillary, Edwards–proposed single-payer. And this was nothing new: back in the ’90s Bill Clinton’s plan wasn’t single-payer either. Obamacare (and Hillarycare, and Edwardscare) was based broadly on ideas which even Paul Krugman endorsed in 2007, recognizing it as the most progressive reform that had a politically realistic chance of passing were the Democrats to capture the White House in 2008. This reality had as much to do with moderate, Blue Dog Democrats as it had to do with Republicans. And there was nothing naive about thinking GOP moderates like Olympia Snowe could be courted to support such legislation. That’s how things had worked in the past. The GOP’s absolute and total opposition to everything Obama did–and their ability to keep their entire party in line–was utterly unprecedented. It’s amazing to me that some people look at Obama’s greatest legislative achievement as proof of his political naivete and ineptitude. The fact that he passed comprehensive HCR reform after over a half-century of presidents had tried and failed would seem to suggest that he knew what he was doing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @An Interested Party: You got it. Imagine the exploding heads if that Democratic woman happens to be black?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Anonne: Heh. That image alone puts a smile on my face.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Andre Kenji says:

    The problem of HCR is Medicare. The point about Single Payer, specially in a country like the United States, is that the best solution is not Single Payer per se, but a mixture of Public healthcare and Private insurance.

    Public healthcare systems are not supposed to take care of individual needs of consumers, but to take care of the needs of society as a whole. That´s why prevention(Like dealing with mosquito´s nests) is dealt as a universal policy directly linked with medical care in most countries in the world. That´s why almost EVERY public healthcare system in the world has things such waiting lists. You could offer Universal Healthcare and then create incentives for people to buy private insurance, it would more, not less competitive.

    On the other hand, Medicare is something like a single payer system, but where the policy is directly linked to individuals. That´s why there is no waiting lists in Medicare, that´s relatively generous. Offering anything close to single payer would require cutting expenses on Medicare, specially because the United States has a small number of doctors.

    Democrats never intended to deal with Medicare during HCR, and that´s why HCR was doomed to fail. If Democrats offered single payer while ending the requirements of employer provided healthcare, that´s something that the Chamber of Commerce would be FORCED to support, but it would also not be politically popular.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  23. Rob in CT says:

    Democrats never intended to deal with Medicare during HCR

    Right, which is why they moved ~$800 billion out of Medicare to help fund the ACA, prompting Republicans to cut campaign commercials aimed at Seniors, telling them the bad Obamamonster cut their Medicare.

    The ACA is not my ideal system, and it’s true that Medicare is still problematic. But you took that too far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Imagine the exploding heads if that Democratic woman happens to be black?

    You forget the Shirley Chisholm experience ?

    I sometimes wonder what would have happened in that alternate universe America.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Chisholm

    In the 1972 U.S. presidential election, she made a bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. She survived three assassination attempts during the campaign.

    She campaigned in 12 states and won the Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey primaries earning 152 delegates. However, she lost the hotly contested primaries to George McGovern at the convention in Miami Beach, Florida.[12]

    At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, as a symbolic gesture, McGovern opponent Hubert H. Humphrey released his black delegates to Chisholm,[13] giving her a total of 152 first-ballot votes for the nomination.[4] Chisholm’s base of support was ethnically diverse and included the National Organization for Women.

    Chisholm said she ran for the office “in spite of hopeless odds… to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.” Among the volunteers who were inspired by her campaign was Barbara Lee, who continued to be politically active and was elected as a congresswoman 25 years later. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem attempted to run as Chisholm delegates in New York.[4]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  25. john personna says:

    Any friend of John Huntsman would know why “charm” cannot work, and that this is a bogus, contradictory, demand.

    Any Republican who works with Obama is ostracized for it.

    So the contradictory demand here is that Obama peel off more GOP, who many of these same people would throw under the bus.

    Essentially they demand the President identify squishies and RINOs so that they can be primaried in the next round.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  26. john personna says:

    The Christie saga relates as well. A Republican who said a couple nice things about Obama has few friends on either side.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  27. merl says:

    But Reagan was a traitor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Andre Kenji says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Right, which is why they moved ~$800 billion out of Medicare to help fund the ACA,

    That´s the problem: they took a relatively small amount of money from Medicare, but they took no action to curb costs. Yes, any action to deal with the uninsured is important, but Medicare(And the fact that it´s beneficiaries vote) is the largest problem of any HCR.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  29. Rob in CT says:

    My understanding was that money was cuts to exorbidant payments to providers. That’s cost-control.

    Yes, more needs to be done. But they actually did some, and you glossed right over it. Cheer it and ask for more!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  30. Woody says:

    Let’s be clear, here, though folks: it doesn’t matter one jot what an individual Member’s personal feelings are towards President Obama.

    Most Republicans who show even the barest courtesy towards the President are pilloried and primaried – with extreme prejudice – by their constituents.

    A fair amount of these constituents are true believers who receive the Word, all day, every day, starting with Fox and Friends. Fundamentalists never compromise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  31. stonetools says:

    In answer to Conor’s question of why the Republicans aren’t schmoozing the President is that, unfortunately, they think they are winning.

    Without changing a thing, Republicans are very well positioned for the midterm elections this year and even for the 2016 presidential election. As the University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato recently noted, Republicans are almost guaranteed to keep the House of Representatives in November; they have about a 50-50 chance of taking the majority in the U.S. Senate; and they are likely to keep their majority of the nation’s governor’s mansions. The erosion of public trust in Obama and Democrats spurred by the botched introduction of the healthcare exchanges continues to reverberate in public polling of contests up and down the ballot, erasing the public-opinion edge Democrats gained from the government shutdown and tilting more and more contests in the GOP’s favor, according to Sabato, who on Thursday revised his ratings of three Senate contests, tilting all of them more toward Republicans

    Read the whole depressing thing. The Republican’s scorched-earth policy has worked for them, even at the cost of screwing over millions of people. Doug and James can remonstrate all they want about the current Republican craziness, but they’re not going to change what’s worked for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. C. Clavin says:

    I can’t speak for Obama…but spending time schmoozing with people who don’t believe in really simple basic accepted scientific principles like evolution and AGW, who call you a chimpanzee, who believe their only job as legislators is to get you out of office, and who would call you a liar if you said the sky is blue or water is wet…seems like kind of a drag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  33. rudderpedals says:

    Well it looks like Huntsman decided today would be a good day to trot out the No Labels nag to the roundup at bipartisian fairyland. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/can-the-two-parties-agree-on-priorities-and-goals/2014/01/22/ae229dc0-7e27-11e3-9556-4a4bf7bcbd84_story.html

    If only he’d waited a few days to read the Friedersdorf piece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. Snarky Bastard says:

    @Andre Kenji: You do know that Medicare is significantly more cost efficient than private health insurance. The “problem” with Medicare is that it covers a generically sick population known as old people. So it does exactly what it is designed to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  35. stonetools says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Well, its not surprising that Huntsman would take another trip to bipartisan fairyland. I think a big chunk of the Beltway media continues to buy into the fairytale. But I think the majority of the media and certainly the Democrats have moved on.I think the SOTU will be a lot more about drawing a sharp distinction between the Democrats and the Republicans and about the Republican resistance to common-sense solutions and lot less talk about both parties coming together at the Well of Comity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. rudderpedals says:

    @stonetools: I agree. This President repeatedly went to the comity well only to find it poisoned by treachery and broken deals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. Rob in CT says:

    @stonetools:

    I agree that the scorched earth strategy (huh, no wonder they don’t want to talk about global warming) has benefitted them in the short term. They have successfully accomplished:

    1) Lower GDP/higher unemployment than there otherwise would have been, depressing public confidence in the government’s ability to help;

    2) Less progressive tax code than there otherwise would’ve been.

    3) Less action on climate change than there otherwise would’ve been

    4) Probably slightly lower debt-to-GDP ratio, though this is highly arguable (depends on just how much more employment & GDP growth we’d have had if the GOP had been willing to make some deals)

    5) Adoration from millions of easily duped people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Andre Kenji: ‘they took no actions to curb costs’? Andre, both HCR bills are full of changes made to control Medicare costs. This isn’t theoretical knowledge, my company and all the US hospitals we work with are dramatically changing our marketing and business strategy based on these cost savings.

    As someone who has to know, at least somewhat broadly, what is in the HCR acts, I’ve developed a rule of thumb: if someone says ‘if only Obama really cared about X, they would have put this in HCR’ it’s a virtual guarantee that those measures are already in there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. dazedandconfused says:

    I recall one of Bill Clinton’s first comments about Obama was “….he can’t work a room.” Obama does not have the same skill-set, but if he had been in government longer he might have developed that one. I guess, ideally, we would be selecting Presidents from the people who have already earned the respect and approval of a large number of people in government through long service. Seems to me they originally set up the electoral college to prevent populists and outsiders from gaining that office. If so, it never worked well.

    There were a couple other ways to wield power, be so damn popular you could smash anybody from either party, like Eisenhower, perhaps….earmarks gave control over funds to certain Presidents who had the ability to use them. LBJ? I suspect it is way too early in our history to have a black President who could function like either of those men or a Bubba too. Drove too many white people nuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. john personna says:

    @rudderpedals:

    That Huntsman piece is funny. At one level is could suggest Huntsman is blind to the damage he suffered cooperating with Obama.

    More likely though he hopes his narrative will redeem his position with the Right.

    You can never go wrong with “I blame Obama.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Andre Kenji says:

    @Snarky Bastard:

    You do know that Medicare is significantly more cost efficient than private health insurance.

    No, Medicare is less inefficient than private health insurance in the most expensive healthcare system in the World.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Andre Kenji: just what do you base this on? In, for example, 2012 dozens of insurance companies were fined under HCR because their overhead was greater than thirty percent, while Medicare’s overhead was about 3%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  43. rudderpedals says:

    @Andre Kenji: I see what you did there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. MBunge says:

    Talking about what Obama needs to do to be more “successful” is ridiculous. Obama, when it comes to achieving policy victories, is one of the most successful Presidents in the modern era and those victories have been more liberal in nature than probably any President since LBJ. For pity’s sake, Obama got health care reform passed when Bill “god of all politics” Clinton couldn’t even get a Democratic Congress to vote on the issue.

    I don’t want to sound like that doofus who lamented that no one appreciated the genius of George W. Bush, but I know of no political figure who gets less credit for what he’s accomplished than Obama.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  45. An Interested Party says:

    …but I know of no political figure who gets less credit for what he’s accomplished than Obama.

    And what on earth could be the reason for that? Hmm…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  46. John425 says:

    Typical Joyner. Blame it on the Republicans. Am surprised that Bush didn’t come into it for more bashing. FYI: More than half the nation thinks Obama is doing a crappy job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  47. Barry says:

    @Stonetools: Seconding this. I haven’t seen any proof of the initial claim, that Obama has not schmoozed and schmoozed hard.

    Every time that he hs offered a compromise, the Republicans have shifted their position away from their original claimed position.

    Every time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  48. Barry says:

    @Andre Kenji: “If Democrats offered single payer while ending the requirements of employer provided healthcare, that´s something that the Chamber of Commerce would be FORCED to support, but it would also not be politically popular.”

    Bull. The GOP maintained a 100% unanimous opposition, including to their own ideas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. Barry says:

    @dazedandconfused: “I recall one of Bill Clinton’s first comments about Obama was “….he can’t work a room.” ”

    And I recall Obama beating Hillary very, very badly, despite her assets and connections.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  50. stonetools says:

    @Barry:

    There are a lot of liberals who buy into a Green Lantern theory of Obama on single payer. They believed if Obama truly exercised LEADERSHIP and WILLPOWER and used the BULLY PULPIT, he could have gotten single payer passed. Proving that delusion is not only of the right wing.
    I will say that he should have moved more decisively to try to get a bill passed before the right wing had the time to organize the AstroTurf organization we now call the Tea Party. He was still at the time believing his own BS that despite all the evidence to contrary, the Republicans shared his goals and that they were going to come join him around the Well of Comity and link hands and sing Kumbah Yah. Like I said, liberals can self delude too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. stonetools says:

    @John425:

    FYI: More than half the nation thinks Obama is doing a crappy job.

    I would say that most of that is people disappointed he didn’t do more to fix the economic mess the Republicans left the country in. Of course Republicans have a lot to do with that, since they have and are preventing him from doing more to fix that mess.
    And of course, some of that dislike for him is just straight up racism

    IMAGES DEPICTING OBAMA AS CHIMP, WITCH DOCTOR, ETC

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  52. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    FYI: More than half the nation thinks Obama is doing a crappy job.

    Let’s see – About 47% of the nation is Republican and they have been at that point since January 22, 2009. So, what else is new?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  53. PJ says:

    @John425:

    FYI: More than half the nation thinks Obama is doing a crappy job.

    I guess the Democrats have to pick someone else to run for President in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  54. dazedandconfused says:

    @Barry:

    I recall that as being a long, drawn-out primary struggle myself. Lots of “what ifs” too, like had his boys not figured out that working the caucuses in places like Iowa was important and well worth the effort, or had Hillary voted against the Iraq in 03 and her campaign staff demonstrated a level competence that vaguely resembled the level of their pay, it may well have come out different. That operation resembled nothing so much as a drunken Irish wake.

    At any rate, the topic appears to me to be about the difficulty Obama has had with schmoozing after he won. I doubt many see a poor campaigner or a poor public speaker when they look at Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. John425 says:

    @al-Ameda: The majority of disaffected cuts across all lines: women, the young, blue-collar, the unemployed, small business and so on. Obamacare is a disaster, job growth sucks, the Middle East is a mess, Russia is playing power politics again and the last two appointed Secs. of State are incompetents. Hell, Chairman Mao was more open to “transparency” than this administration. Even our allies are openly contemptible of Obama. Why should the GOP “schmooze” with this corrupt administration?

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  56. John425 says:

    @PJ: Yes, they’ll have to choose another candidate unless this administration abolishes elections altogether.

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  57. Andre Kenji says:

    @Barry: @Barry:

    The GOP maintained a 100% unanimous opposition, including to their own ideas.

    I´m not talking about the GOP. I´m talking about employers.

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  58. Andre Kenji says:

    @MarkedMan:

    In, for example, 2012 dozens of insurance companies were fined under HCR because their overhead was greater than thirty percent, while Medicare’s overhead was about 3%.

    The overhead of the insurance companies is not the problem, the problem are the hospitals. If you are saying that I´m wrong because I did not point out that there some provisions in HCR about controlling costs in hospitals that´s true, but insurance companies are not the MAIN villains here. There are too many for profit hospitals in the United States, by the way.

    And my understanding is that any healthcare system needs a large number of integrated public hospitals and clinics, because that´s the only way of cutting costs. And I´m really Conservative in this subject, I think that Public Health care system should provide comprehensive, but not generous healthcare.

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  59. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    job growth sucks

    L O L
    Yes, Republicans look back fondly to early 2009 when the economy was shedding jobs at a rate of over 700,000 per month.

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  60. Scott O says:

    @John425: Obama merely has to abolish the 22nd amendment by executive order. Have you ever considered changing your user name to Psalm137:9?

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  61. Rafer Janders says:

    It’s simply easier to build consensus when you see your opponents as real, decent human beings who want most of the same things you do and just differ on the best way to get there.

    But what if your opponents aren’t, in fact, decent human beings who want most of the same things you do and just differ on the best way to get there? What if they are indecent and corrupt and want to destroy and degrade most of what you value?

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  62. An Interested Party says:

    John425 is the perfect example of why the President shouldn’t schmooze with Republicans…if your political opponents are fanatics with a delusional view of the world, what’s the point…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  63. John425 says:

    @Scott O: Scott O shows himself to be an asshat. Why should my screen name be made into something Biblical when all I’m doing is reflecting on my Area Code of 425 on the eastside suburbs of Seattle?

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  64. Scott O says:

    @John425:
    Sorry I misunderstood. Seemed like the shoe fit.

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  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @John425: Sorry, whatever you’re selling? I ain’t buying.

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  66. MarkedMan says:

    @Andre Kenji: Andre, I’ll admit that what I’m about to say isn’t widely talked about, but I think the math backs me up. You say that the insurance companies are not the problem, and I say they are a big part of that problem (not all of it). Insurance companies cover just under 50% of the cost of medical reimbursement in this country. Their overhead is roughly 30%. So they contribute about 15% directly to the cost of healthcare in this country. But there are indirect costs as well. For instance, in the Netherlands a lot of things handled by emergency rooms are handled by neighborhood clinics. In most clinics they literally do not have anyone on staff that handles payment paperwork. Think about that. How many people work in a US doctors office handling insurance paperwork? And in the X-Ray center. And in the rehab clinic. And in the hospital emergency room. And in the specialty clinics. And on and on and on. I don’t have a solid number here but I have to believe it adds 10-20% to the cost of hospital care. Call it 15%. So 30% of US health care costs is made up of insurance company expenses.

    The most expensive European country is about 65% of the US cost. If we knocked that insurance company overhead down to 5%, it would put us at 75%. More expensive than Europe, but not astronomically so. And if the Congress hadn’t written into law that US government health agencies literally have to pay whatever the pharmaceutical companies charge and we could negotiate that, we would be well on our way to matching that 65% number..

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  67. Andre Kenji says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You say that the insurance companies are not the problem,

    I did not say that. What I´ve said is that hospital costs are a larger problem than insurance costs. In most countries, even if you are uninsured you can pay for medical procedures with, you know, money(I´ve saw people doing that here in Brazil, and with paper money!). In the States any small medical procedure will cost you no less than a thousand dollars.

    When that Nevada GOP lady talked about paying medical bills with chickens, the real problem is that one would need an entire poultry farm to do that.

    And yes, public healthcare can be used to make private insurance more competitive, and that´s the opposite of what happens in the US.

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  68. grumpy realist says:

    @John425: It’s not whether we’re pissed with Obama, it’s whether the other side will offer anything better.

    Considering that the Republican side is perfectly willing to use me as an involuntary brood-mare and donatrix of organs whether I want to or not, I know which side I’m coming down on.

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  69. John425 says:

    @grumpy realist: If your body truly is your own property then why are you volunteering to be the brood mare.? I don’t see the GOP forcing you to bear children. Perhaps you’re just the victim of poor planning on your part.

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  70. MarkedMan says:

    @Andre Kenji: Andre, you are right that a few stitches will cost an individual 10-20 times what it would cost in a European country. Just for the record though, that is not what the vast majority of such cases are billed for. Medicare/caid/Vets, etc and private payers typically pay a small fraction of what an individual is charged. Sometimes less than 10%. I can’t really tell you why that is.

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  71. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    Scott O shows himself to be an asshat.

    Stay classy my friend.

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  72. Barry says:

    @Andre Kenji: “I´m not talking about the GOP. I´m talking about employers.”

    Then perhaps clearer writing is in order?

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