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Scott Kaiser

Much Ado About Nothing

Filed By Scott Kaiser | January 26, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, bipartisanship, Democrats, Republicans

A lot of fuss is being made over two little words that President Obama said recently:

        "I won."

President Obama used the above two words in reference to the November election as reason why his ideas regarding a stimulus package tax credit would prevail over the Republicans' opposing views.

Republicans all over the Internet and media are using these two words as evidence that Obama sees himself as a king. They're claiming that this proves that Obama isn't interested in the bipartisanship he promised and is being mean-spirited about it. The problem is that the words are being taken completely out of context.

Unfortunately they're not the only ones doing it. I've read several of my fellow liberal-minded bloggers using these words to slap the Republicans in the face. It's no more mature than the "ha ha" taunt more commonly heard on a playground.

Let's back up and take a look at why Obama said these two words:

On Friday morning President Obama met with Republican leaders to listen to their concerns about his stimulus package proposal. At the meeting, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia gave the President a copy of the Republicans' five-point stimulus plan. After a quick review, Obama said, "Nothing on here looks outlandish or crazy to me" and seemed particularly receptive to some Republican ideas about increasing benefits to small businesses.

When there was some disagreement regarding tax credits however, Rep. Cantor later recalled to the press the President had told him "You're correct, there's a philosophical difference, but I won, so we're going to prevail on that." According to witnesses, the tone of Obama's remark was lighthearted and that lawmakers of both parties had laughed. "He was very straightforward," Rep. Cantor added. "There was no disrespect, but it was very matter-of-fact." (source: The New York Times)

So why the tempest over his remark? If you place his words in full context, you can see that President Obama was merely being pragmatic about how to resolve the disagreement. I believe the brouhaha is because neither side - Democrats or Republicans - is ready to make nice yet. We've been so bitterly at war with each other for the past eight years or longer that we want to see vileness and taunts in President Obama's remarks even if there is none. We won't let ourselves truly believe anyone could truly be interested in working with the other side rather than against them to get things done.

I would expect this from the Republicans right now only because they're still feeling the sting from being taken out of power, but from my fellow Democrats? Here we railed and protested against George Bush and the Republican congress for refusing to work in the best interests of the people rather than their party! Now we want to use a quote taken out of context to sneer at the other side? Shame on us.

When we voted for Obama we voted for change and believed in his ideas on how to accomplish it. As he reminded us in his inaugural speech, "the time has come to set aside childish things" such as taunts and sneers. We need to follow his lead and reach a hand out to the other side. Not all good ideas come from Democrats alone, and for better or for worse, Republicans are just as much a part of this country as we are. We need to work together if we're ever going to make this a better world in which to live.

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It's all they have. They're sticking with what they know best: whining. We're exposing Republican obstructionism and outrages and failures one by one. We'll keep on exposing them.

And obtw, most Americans are glad he won and many of us helped him win.

I dunno. I read digby every day, so I guess my take on bipartisanship is going to be obvious. Bipartisanship means that Democrats give in to Republicans and that Republicans get 90-100% of what they want. The difference between this and conservatism is that Democrats don't make too much noise.

The good of the country, obviously, is in the hyper-partisan Democratic line. The Republicans ran this country into the ground, and there's no shame in pointing out that they're too tied to their failed ideology to actually help people. After Katrina, Iraq, the financial crisis, etc., it's pretty clear to anyone paying attention that their ideas are failures. Incorporating their policy beliefs into further legislation does nothing to benefit the people of the US - all it does is make some people feel better since Republicans and Democrats are working together.

On Inauguration Day Tom Brokaw was on the TV saying as much. The worst thing about the Bush Administration, to him, was that Democrats and Republicans stopped going out for drinks after a hard day legislatin'. All those lives ended and retirements lost and civil rights violated meant nothing to Brokaw - the important thing was that the ruling class din't have fun while doing all that.

The stimulus package is a good example. Obama already bent over backwards to accommodate Republicans who have no place to drive a hard deal at the federal level (for a reason!), what with devoting 100's of millions to tax cuts to get them on board. And what do Republicans respond with? Saying that they're going to do everything in their power to stop the stimulus package. They know it'll work, economists agree a stimulus package will help the economy, history proves them right, but Republicans' ideology about free markets says it can't work so they have to oppose it.

Obama did win. The American people did give the Democrats a mandate to try to fix this country. That much we know is true. Even after the shenanigans of 2000 Bush managed to claim a mandate (he won over 50% of the Supreme Court!). There's nothing wrong with Obama claiming his legitimate mandate and actually pushing through a stimulus package that'll work instead of the one the Republicans want.