I was scanning Memeorandum this morning to see what hot stories were out there to blog about and came across two headlines about Obama that gave contrasting messages. First, from the NYT:
WASHINGTON — Emboldened by the response to President Obama’s face-off with House Republicans last week, the White House is intensifying its push to engage Congressional Republicans in policy negotiations as a way to share the burden of governing and put more scrutiny on Republican initiatives.
The president has invited members of Congress from both parties for a meeting at the White House next Tuesday, the first of the bipartisan brainstorming sessions that Mr. Obama proposed during the State of the Union address. Republicans will also be invited to the White House this weekend to watch the Super Bowl, as well as to Camp David and other venues for social visits.
The outreach represents a marked shift in both strategy and substance by Mr. Obama and his allies at a time when Democrats are adapting to the loss of their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate and the president has been losing support among independent voters.
The White House’s goal is to show voters that Mr. Obama is willing to engage Republicans rather than govern in a partisan manner while forcing Republicans to make substantive compromises or be portrayed as obstructionist given their renewed power to block almost all legislation in the Senate.
Is that what some “senior” official at the WH told the NYT to write? Sounds like the AP didn’t get the same courtesy call:
NASHUA, N.H. – President Barack Obama branded Republicans on Tuesday as electoral opportunists more concerned about their own interests than the people’s, taking a political risk by escalating criticism of the very lawmakers he’s urging to work with him.
The newly combative approach is a double-edged sword for Obama.
Fearful of losses in the November congressional and gubernatorial elections, Democrats have been urging Obama to throw tougher punches at Republicans. Those calls grew louder after the Democrats’ stunning loss two weeks ago of a Senate seat in Massachusetts, seen as an indictment of Democratic control over Congress and the White House.
The president complied on Tuesday, choosing to do so in a state where two House seats and a Senate are in play this fall.
Citing examples, he took Republicans to task for switching positions on important issues just to score points with voters.
“You’re out of patience with this kind of business as usual,” he told his 1,600-member audience. “You want us to start worrying less about our jobs and more about your jobs.”
Now, that’s more like it. This is the predictable President we’ve come to know and respect very little. This is the same President who, as the AP pointed out, promised on the campaign trail to be an “agent of change,” a “bipartisan leader” who would “reach across the aisle” to “get things done.” Of course, you and I knew quite differently, esp. considering the flip flop Congressional Democrats did on the “reach across the aisle” promises after the 2006 elections, but the Obama-obsessed Mainstream Mediots and Obama-friendly pundits like David “hand up my leg” Brooks tried to convince us that he was a “cool guy” who meant what he said. A majority of Americans fell for it. Those of us who weren’t wearing blinders did not.
And we’re not fooled this time around, either. In reading the NYT story about Obama’s alleged attempts at trying to “make peace” with Republicans, I am reminded all over again that everything this President and his administration does revolves around style and symbolism rather than substance. He wants people to “believe” that he’s trying to “change” BAU in Washington, DC but the only thing that he’s changed over and over again is his rhetoric on the issue of bipartisanship. He is no more interested in bipartisanship than he is being held accountable for his actions. The various invitations are nothing more than a way to provide cover for him when he gets questioned on the partisan nature of Washington, DC and what he’s trying to do about it. He can throw out the invites and the televised Q&A (which we may see more of, BTW) to show that – on the surface, at least – he’s “doing his part” to bring the GOP to the table. That way, when he’s acting unpresidential and stabbing them in the back like he did in NH, he’s got his cover story already ready to fire off to the MSM – a media who didn’t even bother to call him out on the contradicting messages he gave on the issue of bipartisanship during his SOTU last week.
So in reality, both headlines could be considered accurate … but only if you combine them into one big story like I just did to explain the full motivations behind the administration’s actions.