Times political writer Matt Bai, who claimed this week that Obama had missed an historic opportunity in 2009 when he failed to take advantage of a “teachable moment” regarding long-term economic investment, recently answered reader questions online.
One person (“Paul”) asked Bai about the rather astonishing and unprecedented brand of obstructionism that Republicans have been practicing, to the point where the White House has found in virtually impossible to find Republican members of Congress willing to reach across the aisle on any issue. (Thereby hindering Obama's agenda.) The reader suggested that given the GOP's party line refusal to cooperate, shouldn't Obama have been more combative with his political enemies?
Here was Bai's response, which seemed to perfectly capture today's Beltway CW on the topic [emphasis added]:
Well, Paul, seems to me that beating up the opposition is probably a decent political strategy when they outnumber you. Blaming them for a lack of progress when you control every legislative body larger than the Peoria City Council just sounds like whining.
Blaming Republicans for their obstructionism “sounds like whining,” according to Bai. And besides, Democrats control Congress and the White House so they should be able to get done whatever they want, the writer suggested.
Is Bai really claiming that because there are more Democratic members in the House and the Senate that Democrats have free reign to do whatever they want? Is Bai really claiming that Republicans in the minority (not to mention the GOP Noise Machine) have been powerless to foil Obama's agenda, that the only thing stopping him is his own lack of imagination, and Republicans have been mere bystanders since Inauguration Day?
Amazingly, I think that is what Bai's suggesting.
The writer clearly leaves the impression that if Obama had proposed “retooling the education system, installing universal broadband, upgrading rail lines and electrical grids,” Republicans would have either A) supported him or B) been powerless to stop him.
I guess Bai's been watching a different game unfold for the last 20 months.