Now, I understand that when the President of the United States invites you to the White House for a little discussion, you go. I understand that when the President of the United States invites you to the White House for a photo op, you go.
But, when the President of the United States invites you to share his failures, this is one invite you spurn.
In Shakespeare's Tempest II., ii. 37, he presciently scribes, "My best way is to creep under his gaberdine; there is no other shelter hereabout. Misery acquaints man with strange bedfellows."
And, in inviting Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to the White House yesterday as part of an overture on health care legislation, President Obama was metaphorically creeping under their gaberdine.
November, 2010 looms large in White House thinking right now. In fact, nothing looms larger. And, as of this moment, administration failures to pass 'meaningful health care legislation' and an underperforming economy, despite legislative supermajorities, remain just that 'administration failures.'
Obama, Axelrod & Company would like nothing better than to spread their failure. They know that the likelihood of producing health care legislation with Republican leadership is slim and, further, they know that the likelihood of a liberal legislative majority supporting any collaborative health care legislation is even slimmer yet.
So why dance with the Republican devils? Because administration hopes to avoid a cataclysmic result in November reside in their ability to demonstrate that Republican 'obstructionism' is the cause of legislative stalemate. And, the only way to make that happen is to invite Republicans to the table in a very public way and have the Republicans appear as uncooperative and uncompromising.
Now, those who would defend President Obama's sincerity might argue that he's adopting the Clintonian triangulation methods used successfully in the wake of the 1994 elections and that he is genuinely reaching out to Republicans in an effort to get something done. Politely stated, baloney. President Clinton was inherently a moderate, who was pulled to the left and then returned to his more natural center. President Obama is a leftist, who has no intention of ever residing in the political center.
President Obama doesn't care about providing Republicans with a seat at the table, but he does care about making sure that the political independents who led to Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts return to the Democrat fold. To them, he must appear as the president that they thought they supported in November, 2008. And, for a president who lacks any political sincerity, there is no better way to do this than to appear as if he is playing nice with Congressional Republicans at their retreat and entertain them for tea at the White House.
President Obama is standing at the bottom of the cliff, throwing a rope up to the Congressional Republicans, hoping against hope that they will grab it. Grab it . . . not because President Obama wants John Boehner to pull him from his misery, but because he wants to quickly tug and bring Republicans over the political cliff with him.
Remember, misery loves company.
And, as these overtures undoubtedly will continue until the fish hook is fully ensconced in Mitch McConnell's mouth, Republicans would be wise to rebuff every such effort.