Obama's cynicism: Refusing to negotiate and then saying that it is the Republicans who are refusing to do so
. . . . He has been so certain of his campaign skills that he didn’t open a line of communication with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until Thursday, a week before the spending ax hits. And when they did finally hear from Obama, the calls were perfunctory, with no request to step up negotiations or invitations to the White House.
That’s because Obama’s all-in on an outside strategy, doing just about everything other than holding serious talks with Republicans. In the last two days alone, he’s courted local TV anchors, called in a select group of White House correspondents to talk off-the-record, chatted up black broadcasters, and announced plans to stump next week at Virginia’s Newport News Shipyard. Throughout, he’s talked in tough terms that signal little interest in compromise — or suggestion of backing down.
He’s navigating a thin line. Obama is convinced he’s got the upper hand on Republicans. Yet he can go only so long before he risks being perceived as a main actor in Washington’s dysfunction, threatening a core element of his political brand — and the fragile economic recovery he’s struggled to maintain.
The calls placed Thursday to Boehner and McConnell were prompted, in part, by a White House desire to inoculate Obama from that exact criticism. . . . .Compare that discussion in Politico to the White House's discussion here.
QUESTION: Did the White House or the administration make the Department of Defense wait to release the specific cuts on the sequestration until the last two weeks? It seems like we're just hearing about this. And General Odierno had said last week that they didn’t prepare for it very well because they didn’t think it was going to happen.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE: No. The answer to your question is no. And there is a process here underway. I think -- I mean, I can't speak for General Odierno, but I think we're all hopeful and remain at least insistent that Republicans do not make the choice to allow sequestration to happen; that they choose instead to come up with a balanced plan or to agree to a balanced plan to postpone or eliminate the sequester.
The fact is, broadly speaking, we've known what the impact of these dramatic, across-the-board cuts would be. I can quote to you page after page of Republicans citing the harm to the Pentagon and our defense readiness that would come if sequester were to take effect. . . .Charlie Cook has a related point on immigration, where the president's constant politicization of issues makes it harder for an agreement to be made.
Every time Obama takes a public stand on immigration, he makes it that much more difficult for Republican members of Congress to support it. Keep in mind that 94 percent of House Republicans are in districts Mitt Romney carried and that 34 of 45 GOP senators represent states Obama lost. As a result, most congressional Republicans are far more afraid of losing a primary to a more conservative challenger than a general election to a Democrat. It is a lot easier for them to support an immigration bill that has broad-based support in the business and farming communities (and that also happens to be supported by Obama and the Democratic leadership) than to back a bill so popularly identified with the other side. If the president really cares about enacting immigration reform, he will get off the campaign trail, depoliticize it, and keep as quiet about it as he can. . . .