The President’s Powers of Persuasion

Peter Nicholas and Kristina Peterson have an article on this in The Wall Street Journal.

Democratic strategists, lobbyists and some Capitol Hill aides see last week’s defeat of the gun-bill amendments as a worrisome sign that Mr Obama hasn’t found a way to bridge the partisan divide in Congress….

Except for the part about he hasn’t tried.  Instead, he’s worked hard to exacerbate a natural difference between the two parties.  He routinely insults and denigrates those who disagree with him: those bitter clingers to guns and religion, for instance.  His DHS, at the start of Obama’s administration characterizing returning veterans as right wing extremists.  During his sequester “negotiations” he said

[Republicans] will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.

That they were not arguing for any such thing is beside the point.  And in response to his gun control legislation being defeated in his Democrat-controlled Senate,

The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill[.]

Nicholas and Peterson also write, rather naively in my opinion,

While the White House is renewing its outreach to lawmakers, including Republicans, some believe the overtures feel thin—driven by pressing legislative deadlines.

And they quote a carefully unnamed “White House official” as saying that Obama

has used every tool in his toolbox to try to advance his agenda. And that includes meeting with, talking with, dining with and negotiating with lawmakers of both parties[]

while carefully ignoring two things: this “outreach” has only begun in the last few months of his now five-year-old administration.  Up to now—and continuing coincident with this…outreach—he’s only been willing to talk about how evil Republicans are.

The other thing being ignored is Obama’s fundamental dishonesty: on “balanced” spending and tax reform, Obama got from the fiscal cliff negotiations $600 billion in tax increases and $60 billion in spending cuts.  Some balance.  His budget proposal extends this: he demands another trillion in tax increases in the name of “balance.”  The sequester, which he proposed and now denies proposing, would bring economic Armageddon according to the campaign he ran in lieu of actual negotiation—it didn’t.  This is coupled with Republican legislative proposals to give him the authority to spread the cuts according to his priorities and so lessen his predicted pain, but which he threatened to veto.  And there’s that dishonesty of calling those who disagree with him liars.

It’s no wonder his overtures “feel thin.”  They are; they’re for show only.  If Obama has used every tool in his toolbox, it’s because respect for the views of others, a willingness to negotiate or to compromise, are not tools in that box.

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