The Wall St. Journal reports on an interview with Rahm Emanuel in which he concedes that striving for bipartisanship derailed the administration's stimulus message.
Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.
But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.
He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.
Of course, in the same interview, Emanuel insisted that the president would continue to reach out to Republicans. "That will not change," he said.
OK, well what I hope does change is the prioritizing of this cute little hobby of his. Bipartisanship for its own sake, which, let's face it, is what the president has been engaging in (lacking any cooperation from the other side) should not trump making good policy. Yes, Republican input is welcome and their votes would be lovely, even beyond the very few that are necessary for passage, but not at the cost of the agenda that was ratified by the American people in the landslide last November.
But just in case the administration needs a reminder, Think Progress documents the bipartisan outreach by Obama and what he got in return:
What Obama did: Trusted Judd Gregg when he indicated that, despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace and move forward with the presidents agenda.
What Obama got in return: A change of heart from Gregg, who said that he couldnt be Judd Gregg at Commerce.
What Obama did: Reached out to have dinner with right-wing pundits Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and David Brooks.
What Obama got in return: A ripping from his right-wing friends, who called it the worst in galactic history.
What Obama did: Tried to work with the House GOP by preemptively including tax cuts, stripping stimulative spending proposals, and attending their conference meeting.
What Obama got in return: Zero votes (and a bunch of false myths about his plan)
What Obama did: Tried to reach out to John McCain to work together on solving our financial crisis.
What Obama got in return: Nothing. McCain voted against the legislation, and even went so far as to call it generational theft and hypocritically complained that it contained corporate giveaways.
On Countdown just now, Eugene Robinson expressed his expectation that the message Rahm Emanuel is sending here is, as Keith put it:
"Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice...that's not going to happen."
Let's hope so.