Maybe Mitch McConnell shouldn’t feel left out after all. Before the midterm election, the New York Times reported that it took 18 months for Barack Obama to get around to meeting with the Senate Minority Leader, despite Obama’s promises to work across the aisle and to become a post-partisan President. This week, John Heileman reports for New York Magazine that McConnell fared better than some Democrats did, including a half-dozen appointed by Obama to his Cabinet. During the first two years of his presidency, Obama didn’t bother to confer with them at all — not even so much as a phone call:
From the article:
Few perceptions were more widely shared or loudly voiced around Washington than that the Obamans were huffing their own fumes. “You know the cliché about our strengths being our weaknesses? It’s true for them as well,” says a top political strategist in a previous White House. “I think they felt like if they had listened to conventional wisdom in 2007, they never would have run. When they hear criticism, they say, ‘Been there, done that, we’re gonna stay the course.’ There’s almost a Zen-like quality about how they’ve been in their own universe and their own bubble.”
The more pointed variant of this critique was directed specifically at Obama. Unlike 42—who loved to stay up late, jabbing at the speed dial, spending countless hours gabbing with local pols and businesspeople around the country to gauge the political wind and weather—44 not only eschewed reaching out to governors, mayors, or CEOs, but he rarely consulted outside the tiny charmed circle surrounding him in the White House. “What you had was really three or four people running the entire government,” says the former White House strategist. “I thought they put a pretty good Cabinet together, but most of those guys might as well be in the witness-protection program.”
A funny line, no doubt, but an overstatement, surely? Well, maybe not. “I happen to know most of the Cabinet pretty well, and I get together with them individually for lunch,” says one of the most respected Democratic bigwigs in Washington. “I’ve had half a dozen Cabinet members say that in the first two years, they never had one call—not one call—from the president.”
When you’re the One, you don’t really need outreach, do you? Rarely have we seen such arrogance — a natural trait for anyone who runs for and wins the Presidency — combined with so little justification for it. Small wonder Pete Rouse wanted to shake things up, but replacing him with Chicago insider William Daley sounds like we can expect more of the same.