Scarborough: Obama really trying to move beyond his extreme base and get some stuff done

posted at 4:01 pm on March 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Obama’s very recent “charm offensive” and the ostensible desire for a “grand bargain”: Sincere effort, or a total joke? Joe Scarborough, at least, is convinced that our infamously aloof president is in earnest:

Is the president really trying to bypass his “extreme base” get a debt deal done, though? He apparently warned Democrats they might need to be ready to embrace some entitlement changes on Tuesday, but as Stephen Hayes argued yesterday, the president’s best shot for a productive second term still lies in campaigning against those obstructionist, incorrigible Republicans on behalf of Congressional Democrats:

In my view, there’s little reason to believe that the president wants such a grand bargain—or at least that he wants it enough to jeopardize his second-term political strategy. That plan? To win back the House of Representatives for Democrats, with heavy Obama involvement, by portraying Republicans once again as extremists. As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, Obama intends “to articulate for the American electorate his own feelings — an exasperation with an opposition party that blocks even the most politically popular elements of his agenda.” Then, having secured control of Congress, the president can consolidate and build on his implementation of the progressive agenda he began in his first term and laid out in his second inaugural and most recent State of the Union Address.

A grand bargain with Republicans makes such a case impossible. The president won’t agree to any deal without additional “revenues” of some kind. If Republicans were to be a part of any such compromise, something that would overshadow his other potential policy accomplishments, it would be difficult for the president to suggest that they’re simply obstructionist ideologues.

It’s far more likely that the real target of President Obama’s “charm offensive” isn’t Republicans but the journalists who cover such matters. It’s a bank shot. By “reaching out” to Republicans, he is attempting to position himself as the “reasonable” party in Washington even if his big ask—additional revenues—is something Republicans already gave him as part of the fiscal cliff deal.

And they definitely haven’t abandoned that approach, whatever else they’re saying this whole “charm offensive” is meant to accomplish; on election night, President Obama telephoned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC Chair Steve Israel to emphasize that he was all in for helping the Democrats out with 2014, and BuzzFeed reports that the Democrats have so far been pretty pleased with how “receptive” the White House has been to their campaign concerns. Yeah, I’ll bet:

“We’re in a very good place on the president’s commitment, and the president is in a very good place on the president’s commitment,” Rep. Steve Israel, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told committee supporters during a presentation Wednesday.

“The president has also asked us to keep him apprised of some of our recruiting priorities and we’ve been sharing that information with the White House, and they’ve been very receptive to it,” he added.


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