Politico has an interesting story titled Obama turns to McConnell to secure his legacy. The thrust of the article is that Obama has been reduced to depending upon the kindness of strangers:
It’s not as if Obama and others in the White House have forgotten their history with McConnell, but he looks better than other potential partners. The president’s relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s caucus has hit the rocks. He finds House Speaker John Boehner tedious and unreliable: Too many false starts and acrimonious endings have marred their relationship. House Democrats, for their part, are increasingly full of complaints about the president, but there will be so few of them come January that they’ll hardly matter.
Note that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is not even mentioned.
Securing Obama’s legacy has also become a small, shrinking, and moving target. Rather than a signature accomplishment the administration is thinking small:
The White House also knows it has to move quickly. Administration officials believe there will be only about six months to move on the bipartisan agenda that Obama and his aides have identified around trade, infrastructure funding and perhaps even sentencing reform or early childhood education, before the 2016 presidential race takes center stage.
Just before the elections I wrote about the nearly Fuehrer-in-the-bunker sense of delusion settling in on the White House. In it I quote from another Politico article:
As bad as the electoral map for Democrats is this year, the map for Republicans in 2016 is even worse. GOP incumbents are up in seven states President Barack Obama won twice and two he won once, including Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Rob Portman in Ohio, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Mark Kirk in Illinois and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.
Those senators, goes one thought circulating in the West Wing, would be under pressure to move toward the middle and be the bridge to larger deals with a caucus eager to show it can get things done.
Aides are discussing potential areas for agreement: tax reform, infrastructure, sentencing reform, renewing unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage and expanding early childhood education.
What is shaping up is a massive case of Stockholm Syndrome on the part of a GOP Senate. For instance, from the New York Times:
This year, Mr. Rubio added, the new senators seem driven more by policy. “They’re coming up here not just to be against things, but to do things,” he said. “I think it’s a very positive aspect of this class.”
Last week, as the freshmen toured the Capitol, found their way to their temporary offices and listened to seminars on Senate history as part of their orientation, the vetting was evident. Those who took questions from the news media were uniformly on-message: We are here to get things done, not to obstruct.
“All of us, I think, have a real interest in getting results,” Mr. Rounds said.
“Govern competently, govern maturely,” said Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado, who defeated Mark Udall.
“It’s one thing to say we’re opposed,” said Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma, who will replace Senator Tom Coburn when he retires at the end of this Congress. “But just being opposed to things means you still have the same problem.”
Though Mr. Lankford was alien to politics before he was elected in 2010 — for a decade he ran a Baptist youth camp — he did not, like many in his class, turn into a Tea Party die-hard.
When read in context with the mewlings of some of the Republican punditocracy over fighting Obamacare, one begins to see a disturbing image forming of a GOP majority that views its charter from the voters as “doing something” and “working across the aisles” regardless of what the “something” is that they are doing. A deal, for instance, on trade agreements is long overdue and has been held hostage by Harry Reid who is ever in thrall to environmental extremists and labor bosses. It is difficult to see why the GOP would sign onto some kind of massive expansion of failed government meddling in education in light of the Frankenstein’s monster Head Start and No Child Left Behind Act have created. It is also hard to understand why a fiscally prudent and governmentally modest GOP majority would want to embark on some major infrastructure boondoggle.
Both the White House spin and wishful thinking by Politico, there are reasons to be skeptical that this grand era of bipartisanship will ever happen.
McConnell is not the most reliable conservative but he is a guardian of the prerogatives of the Congress and the Senate in a way Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) never was. McConnell has vowed to fight Obama’s executive action on immigration and he will fight over the administration’s abuse of the coal industry.
We need to be vigilant. If the best we get out of the Senate is more big government with a bipartisan smiley face slapped on it we are going to lose the Senate and fail to win the presidency in 2016 and we will deserve the loss.