The logic here is weirdly impeccable. The Republican Party’s dilemma is that House Republicans keeps taking all kinds of unreasonable and unpopular positions. If Obama weren’t president, the House Republicans wouldn’t be taking so many unreasonable and unpopular positions. But since Obama is president, and since he does need to work with House Republicans, he is highlighting their unreasonable and unpopular opinions in a bid to make them change their minds, which is making House Republicans look even worse. And so it’s ultimately Obama’s fault that House Republicans are, say, threatening to breach the debt ceiling if they don’t get their way on spending cuts. After all, if Mitt Romney had won the election, the debt ceiling wouldn’t even be a question!
My colleague Michael Gerson wrote one of the earliest versions of this column. As he put it, Obama “knows that Republicans are forced by the momentum of their ideology to take positions on spending that he can easily demagogue.” So he has, in a bid to “break his opponents,” decided to “force the GOP to surrender on the debt limit, with nothing in return” and to “require Republicans to accept new taxes in exchange for any real spending reductions.”
In other words, it's just not fair that President Obama is hitting home runs off such juicy hanging fastballs the GOP nutjobs keep tossing over the plate. If President Obama really cared about bipartisanship, he'd surrender completely to the Republicans and stop making them look bad. Sure. And if college co-eds would stop wearing outfits like that...you get the picture. This is outright victim blaming, period.
Jon Chait comes up with a similar observation on the latest idiocy from David Brooks.
What Obama should be doing in response, Brooks argues, is push for policies that provoke no opposition even from the craziest of the Republicans: “We could do some education reform, expand visa laws to admit more high-skill workers, encourage responsible drilling for natural gas, maybe establish an infrastructure bank.” Brooks argues that these issues would be uncontroversial enough to “erode partisan orthodoxies and get back into the habit of passing laws together.” Then, maybe we could pass some laws under a future president.Note that solving actual problems is besides the point here. Brooks is almost explicit about this. He begins with the need for initiatives that he thinks will lead to happiness and comity between the parties in Washington, and then comes up with policies that might fit the bill...
Here's the reality. Short of resigning from the Presidency along with Joe Biden and then putting John Boehner in the White House, there is nothing that President Obama can do that will make the Republicans like him. And if the Republicans get their way, pretty much every law in the last four years gets thrown out. "Just humor the lunatics" is not a viable governing strategy. "Getting rid of the lunatics" is.
We need to remember that in 2014.