creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Michael Barone
Michael Barone
2 Sep 2014
The President who Is Uninterested in Other People

Some time ago I contrasted the reaction a conservative would get if he were in the same room with the two … Read More.

29 Aug 2014
Obama's Segue From Constructive Tax Proposals to Low-Grade Demagoguery

"The tax system should be simplified and work for all Americans with lower individual and corporate tax rates … Read More.

26 Aug 2014
A Decent Lawyer Should Tell Liberals They're Damned Fools and Ought to Stop

"About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients that they are damned fools … Read More.

Box-checking Obama in a Liberal Cocoon

Comment

It's unusual when a reporter sympathetic to a politician writes a story that makes his subject look bad. But Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker has now done this twice.

The first time was in an article last April on Obama's foreign policy in which he quoted a "top aide" (National Security Adviser Tom Donilon? It sounds like him) saying that the president was "leading from behind" on Libya. Not what most Americans expect their presidents to do.

Now, in an article based on leaked White House memos marked up by Obama, Lizza has done it again.

Contrarian liberal blogger Mickey Kaus sums it up: "The president's decision-making method — at least as described in this piece — seems to consist of mainly checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him."

A $60 billion cut in the stimulus package? "OK." Use the reconciliation process to pass the health care bill? A checkmark in the box labeled "yes."

Include medical malpractice reform in the health care bill? The man who as an Illinois legislator often voted "present" writes, "We should explore it."

According to Lizza, Obama prefers getting information and making decisions by staying up late and reading memos rather than meeting with people — a temperament that's a liability because face time with the president is one of his major sources of political capital.

Lizza's reporting undercuts the stated thesis of his article: that Obama sought to bring bipartisan governance to Washington, but was foiled by Republicans' partisan intransigence.

Evidence that Obama ever seriously considered Republican approaches is minimal in the New Yorker article. The alternatives Lizza describes Obama as considering are for even more spending and government control, such as a much bigger stimulus package.

He mentions just in passing that Obama "had decided to pursue health care reform" as well as the stimulus package — a choice that inevitably made bipartisanship harder to achieve.

At one point Lizza does quote Obama writing on a memo, "Have we looked at any of the other GOP recommendations (e.g., Paul Ryan's) to see if they make any sense?" Another president might have looked at Ryan's proposals himself or might even have called him on the phone.

George W.

Bush, in contrast, worked with Democrats — and sometimes even talked with them — on his education plan, his tax cuts and the Iraq War resolution. He even tried, unsuccessfully, to negotiate with them on Social Security.

And on Obama's failure to reach a "go big" budget agreement with House Speaker John Boehner last summer, Lizza presents only the White House talking point: "conservative colleagues rebelled, and Boehner withdrew." He doesn't mention Republican claims that Obama upped the ante, demanding more tax increases.

Lizza's White House sources apparently didn't leak any memos about some of Obama's more recent actions, but his article provides a jumping off place for understanding them.

As in Chicago, Obama seems to live in a cocoon in which Republicans are largely absent, offscreen actors that no one pays any attention to.

His personal interactions are limited to his liberal Democratic staff — and to the rich liberals he meets at his frequent fundraising events. He has held more of these than George W. Bush, who in turn held more than Bill Clinton.

Two decisions in particular seem tilted toward rich liberals. One was the disapproval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, even after it survived two environmental impact statements.

Obama says he wants more jobs and to reduce American dependence on oil from unfriendly foreign sources. The pipeline would do both, and is endorsed by labor unions. But Robert Redford doesn't like Canadian tar sands oil. Case closed.

The other astonishing decision was the decree requiring Catholic hospitals and charities' health insurance policies to include coverage for abortion and birth control. Here Obama was spitting in the eyes of millions of Americans and threatening the existence of charitable programs that help millions of people of all faiths.

Catholic bishops responded predictably by requiring priests to read letters opposing the policy. Who's on the other side? The designer-clad ladies Obama encounters at every fundraiser. They want to impose their views on abortion on everyone else.

Obama fundraising seems to be lagging behind its $1 billion goal, and Democrats fear Republicans are closing the fundraising gap. So Obama seems to be concentrating on meeting the demands of rich liberals he spends so much time with.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Michael Barone
Sep. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
John Stossel
John StosselUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Roger Simon
Roger SimonUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Susan EstrichUpdated 3 Sep 2014

21 Feb 2014 UAW Loss in Chattanooga a Repudiation of 1930s Unionism

4 Aug 2011 Chasing Votes by Promising to Do Impossible Things

16 Jul 2012 Like Charter Schools, Britain's Academies Aim High