There was a time — not so long ago — when most of the pundit class assumed Barack Obama would take a page from Harry Truman — and make his re-election about a change agent versus a “do-nothing” Congress.
It ended up being more a subplot to the 2012 election, than a leitmotif. Still, when Democratic talking heads are defending Barack Obama’s dismal presidency, they often revert to a familiar talking point: “I can’t ever recall a newly elected president being faced with the leader of the other party’s caucus saying ‘Our No. 1 priority is to make this president a one-term president.’”
That was former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — but it could have been any number of liberal pundits who use the line as a sort of escape hatch. President Obama has even assisted in pushing the bogus meme that McConnell’s remarks occurred immediately after his election.
But as the Washington Post’s fact checker noted: “McConnell made his remarks in an interview that appeared in the National Journal on Oct. 23, 2010 — nearly two years after Obama was elected president.”
Which brings me to more recent news. If a remark Mitch McConnell made two years after Obama became president could be used to portray his side as intransigent — what about Majority Leader Harry Reid having declared Mitt Romney’s bipartisan overtures dead on arrival — before we even know if he will be elected president?
As National Journal’s Dan Friedman reported, “In a statement reacting to what he said are Romney’s claims that Senate Democrats will work with him on his agenda, Reid calls Romney a “severe conservative” whose “far-right agenda” Democrats reject.”
This not only sets Reid up as a future villain, it also gives Romney a built-in excuse if his agenda doesn’t pass the senate.
Sensing the American public had grown sick of gridlock, Mitt Romney recently began talking about his record of working across the aisle in Massachusetts. One can imagine that, if elected, that rhetoric will spill over into his governing style.
We should all be skeptical of promises of unity (remember, Texas Gov. George W. Bush had great relations with his Democratic adversaries in Texas, and promised to be “a uniter, not a divider.”) Our nation was designed for a certain amount of gridlock — to pit “ambition against ambition.”
Still, after years of divisiveness, the public yearns for statesmanlike comity. Harry Reid may live to regret his remarks.