A news story from the Washington bureau of the Associated Press on Wednesday reported that bipartisanship is hard to come by in Washington thanks to Republicans’ intransigence, and suggested that Democrats seeking higher office are wrong to pursue it.
“While partisan infighting is nothing new in Washington, [President] Obama and [Vice-President] Biden’s eight years in the White House left some Democrats particularly pessimistic about the party’s ability to work with Republicans,” wrote Julie Pace, AP Washington bureau chief, in “Bipartisanship in 2020? Not so fast, some Democrats say.”
Pace continued. “Party leaders still seethe over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s now-infamous pledge to make Obama a one-term president and contend GOP lawmakers repeatedly moved the goalposts on health care, budget battles and Supreme Court nominations.”
Pace quoted Maria Cardona, a “Democratic strategist,” saying “it’s not that Democrats wouldn’t prefer working with Republicans, ‘it’s that Democrats tried it and got screwed.’”
Obama, who vowed in January 2014 to govern with his phone and a pen – moving through executive orders and other means of power available only to the president, rather than through Congress – was too anxious to work with Republicans, Pace wrote.
“Although Obama remains broadly popular among Democrats, some in the party now suggest he spent too much time trying to forge compromises with Republicans who had little interest in helping him achieve his agenda,” Pace wrote. “Even as he campaigned for re-election in 2012, Obama said his victory would break the GOP ‘fever’ – a prediction he and his advisers later conceded was overly optimistic.”
The story began by discussing former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s recent announcement he will join the Democrat presidential campaign. Hickenlooper said he would “sit down with the Senate’s top Republican if he wins in 2020 – the kind of milquetoast pitch for bipartisanship that White House hopefuls have made for generations,” Pace wrote. “But for some Democrats, Hickenlooper’s pledge landed with a thud.”
Democrats don’t want to cooperate anymore because Republicans didn’t cooperate with Obama on nationalizing health care, ending U.S. support for Israel, sending pallets of cash to Iran and other matters.
“Still stung by President Barack Obama’s fierce battles with Republicans and at odds with nearly every policy the GOP has pursued during the Trump administration, some Democrats say they have little interest in talk of cross-party cooperation,” Pace wrote. “They increasingly view Republicans as immovable obstacles on everything from health care to the economy and are challenging presidential candidates to blow past their GOP opponents instead of bringing them into the fold.”
She then quotes Brian Fallon, an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign who is now pushing candidates to advocate for ending the Senate filibuster and passing all measures on straight majority votes, saying, “’Happy talk about coming together with Republicans is not going to fly.’”
This “take-no-prisoners approach represents a new test for Democratic presidential candidates eager to harness the energy of the party’s liberal base without alienating moderates who may be more open to compromising with the GOP,” Pace wrote. “It also marks a significant shift in strategy and tone for a party whose last two nominees, Obama and [Hillary] Clinton, each made explicit appeals to moderate Republicans and vowed to work across the aisle.”
The story relates Democrats’ reaction when Biden recently called Vice-President Pence a “decent man” As Fallon said, it didn’t fly. It was “the kind of offhand remark Biden has made about countless Republicans over the years,” Pace wrote. “Liberal activists said Pence’s support of anti-gay measures made even that mild praise unacceptable, and Biden apologized.”
It quoted David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest advisers, saying, “’There are some very angry people who have watched the events of the last 10 years and watched Donald Trump and their attitude is ‘hell no.’ And their voices are very loud.’”
She did not mention Trump has a long history of attempting to work with Democrats on legislation ranging from drug pricing to health care reform to sentencing policy and infrastructure.
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Author: Brian McNicoll