by Jack Landsman, Sat Oct 16, 2010 at 01:22:06 PM EDT
In December 2012, the country will be ruminating its recent election of the first woman president: a polarizing survivor. President Obama will welcome Steve Scully, C-SPAN political editor and occasional host of Washington Journal, to the Oval Office for a wistful interview. Mr. Scully may invite the president to admit any mistakes.
That is where Cynthia Tucker’s op-ed, “Obama tried too hard to work with Republicans,” in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution comes in. Tucker’s piece helpfully captures establishment thought. Undue emphasis on the lack of bipartisanship is an almost complimentary critique and will be articulately embraced by a reflective 44th president in his exit interview with Mr. Scully. Of course it is ridiculous, but Steve Scully is too classy to prod. In his 2008 interview with President Bush, Mr. Scully graciously allowed Bush to incredulously ponder how anyone could think of him as mendacious.
Boasts of bipartisanship are a fatuous but necessary aspect of campaigning. In handling Republican opposition, President Obama struck an appropriate tone in the early days of his administration. Bipartisanship for the Obama administration has meant peeling off one or two Republican votes and maybe hailing such as unprecedented unity. And that’s perfectly fine. Generally speaking, Republicans are nihilistic and unserious. For his part, the president is plagued by the failed substance of his policies. That’s the fundamental part that escapes the logic of Cynthia Tucker et al. Various exceptions to his tone, lack of emotional attachment, and his futile attempts to reach across the aisle are ultimately mild critiques.
Paul Krugman was exactly right regarding the size of the stimulus. To be sure, the Recovery Act was a measure worthy of support. I have seen reports in TIME on the Recovery Act’s administrative success and they are impressive. (One program to hit a few snags is the weatherization program, but it isn’t devastating.) This is good, but there was never any reason to believe the other hype; specifically the White House’s claim of keeping unemployment below 8% as a result of the Act.