During a heated exchange on Fox News Sunday between former Obama White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Karl Rove today, Rove took issue with Burton's comment that "Eric Cantor and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell ... would much rather see the economy do poorly so that they could score political points than see America succeed." Burton was attempting to emphasize that what President Obama "needs in Washington are partners who will work with him to actually make progress in this country" -- not adversaries.
Rove replied: "Bill, with all due respect, do not question the motivations and the integrity of the people on the other side. It's a really bad way to try and get partners." He added: "We can't have a political disagreement without me questioning your motivations. That's not a way to get partners."
But as Burton noted, Republicans are motivated by one thing: to make Obama a one-term president, even at the expense of the economy.
"Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office," the Senate Republican leader will tell the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to excerpts of his speech provided to POLITICO.
"But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things," the Kentucky Republican will say. "We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday's election. But we can't plan on it."
While Democratic leaders said Republicans should be prepared to compromise to pass legislation, McConnell will make clear that he wants the administration to "move in our direction" if it wants his party's cooperation.
But McConnell's comments suggest that Obama will face a far more confrontational Senate, particularly if he doesn't dramatically overhaul his agenda. And the Republican leader suggested that he's prepared to tie up the Senate floor and unite his party against some Democratic bills, which could lead to legislative gridlock and have profound repercussions across the 2012 campaign trail.
Similarly, Michele Bachmann stated: "Right now, our number one goal is to make sure that Barack Obama is a one-term president. That's the goal." [Fox & Friends, 6/17/11, via Nexis]. She has also expressed "hope" that higher unemployment helps her campaign.
Fox News' Sean Hannity has also said: "I want everybody to know, I wrote this book, my first one in six years -- I want -- wrote this book because, unless conservatives take back this government, unless we fire Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and make Barack Obama a one-term president, I worry whether or not America will be that shining city on the hill." [Hannity, 3/30/10, via Nexis]
During the debt ceiling debate, right-wing media figures also advised congressional Republicans to refuse to compromise, even allowing the country to default, because, they argued, the consequences of a default could hurt Obama in 2012. Erick Erickson addressed the following remarks to House Speaker John Boehner:
Obama knows his history. Obama knows default would be his, not Congress's legacy. He cannot afford, for the sake of history, to be the guy who collapsed the United States.
Mr. Speaker, you can win this fight. Don't blink. Bring Cut, Cap, and Balance to the floor. Hold the freaking line. You can do this Mr. Speaker. And if you can't, we'll find someone else who can.