Obama (Still Definitely) Not Bipartisan Enough

Newsweek‘s Evan Thomas (11/14/09) on Washington gridlock and partisanship:

Diehard right-wing congressmen do not deserve all the blame. Obama tried to foster bipartisanship at the outset of his administration, but he didn’t try very hard, and his fellow Democrats can be just as rigidly partisan on the left. Obama seems reduced to fencing with Fox News, which won’t get him very far or earn him a place in the history books.

I’m not sure how much more ground Obama (or Democrats in general) is supposed to give. Theyadded a bunch of non-stimulative tax cuts into their stimulus package in order to attract Republican support (which didn’t work). They took the most progressive ideas off the table in the health care debate (single-payer and a robust public option), and in the House adopted the “Stupak amendment” limiting abortion rights.The White House almost immediately sent almost 20,000 troops to Afghanistan, and seems ready to send more.

If the notion is that the Democrats (in Congress or the White House) have pushed hard-left policies, I’d like to see some evidence. Thomas (like Doyle McManus in the L.A. Times last week) points to the White House’s criticism of Fox News Channel as an example of their partisanship–perhaps because there aren’t many other actual examples.

So what, exactly, is the point of all this “Obama isn’t bipartisan enough” chatter? Here we go–presidents move to the right to be successful:

The two greatest postwar presidents understood this. Dwight Eisenhower governed in the 1950s by deftly uniting center and right, and Ronald Reagan did the same in the 1980s.


Since taking office, Obama has so far failed to win the battle for the center. The post-election polls show that the country is, if anything, drifting to the right. Obama needs to win some of those drifters back if he wants to get things done.

A Democrat needs to go further right–somehow you just knew that would be the advice from the corporate media.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.