Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Forget About Bipartisanship — For Now

Barack Obama's goal of bipartisanship was a good one, as I've been saying.

But, apparently, it cannot be achieved on the economic stimulus package.

Maybe it can be accomplished on other matters. But repairing the economy is too urgent. So my advice is to get just as many Republicans on board as are needed to pass the package — even if it is the weaker, watered-down version that emerged from the behind-closed-doors conference of senators last week.

It is something, and Obama himself told the nation during last night's press conference that he does not consider doing nothing to be an option.

Reactions to Obama's press conference were varied.

John Dickerson wrote, in Slate.com, that Obama treated the press conference like a seminar in a grad school class.

Peter Baker said, in the New York Times, that Obama sounded more like the candidate he was a few months ago and not as much like the president he is now.

But perhaps he should remind voters more often about the "failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place" that were, apparently, rejected in the election. More talk like that might prompt more people to press their lawmakers to support a stimulus package.

Baker's colleague at the New York Times, Bob Herbert, compared Obama to a "championship chess player."

William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal wrote about growing skepticism of the package. If that tells you anything, it is that Obama's mission now must not focus on bipartisanship but rather on motivating his supporters and retaining the support he has in Congress on this issue.

Now is no time for compromise, Eugene Robinson tells Obama in the Washington Post.

Well, bipartisanship was — and is — a good idea. It's a worthwhile goal. It just doesn't seem to be attainable on this issue.

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