The Corner

Why Obama Failed to Bridge the Partisan Divide

Commentators on the left of course blame congressional Republicans. At WaPo, Ezra Klein repeats the meme:

Obama ran for president promising to break the gridlock and overcome the partisanship that paralyzes Washington. But it wasn’t up to him. The minority won’t cooperate with the majority unless they see it’s in their interests. And the Republican minority didn’t see it that way.

Well, why didn’t the minority see it that way? Perhaps it’s because President Obama didn’t make it “in their interests” to cooperate. Perhaps he could have gotten more GOP votes if he had given them more of what they wanted. Perhaps congressional Republicans found the president to be (a) rigidly partisan, (b) intellectually unconvincing, and (c) insufferably condescending and insulting. Perhaps they didn’t like that.

Come to think of it, maybe a lot of Americans didn’t like that. Maybe, every time the president insulted the opposition as “full of you-know-what” and “bull-sh**ters,” it played well with the cool kids, but left working-class independents feeling . . . insulted. Maybe that’s why independents seem to be moving in Governor Romney’s direction now.

Maybe he had an opportunity to transcend the partisan divide with ideas and a philosophy that Americans would find compelling. Maybe his failure to accomplish that was his failure. And maybe after this administration is out office, lefty journalists will be able to take a step back and admit that some of his failures were his failures after all

Mario Loyola — Mr. Loyola is a research associate professor and the director of the Environmental Finance and Risk Management Program at Florida International University and a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. From 2017 to 2019 he was the associate director for regulatory reform at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


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