Barack Obama is back in his campaigning mode where he is most comfortable, demonstrating his unthreatening personality, his good looks, his oratorical skills, this time not directed at his own election but to offer bipartisanship to the nation as a substitute for problem solving.
Some might say that his administration has been bipartisan from inception. How else can he explain that the most powerful positions in his government are filled by holdovers from the George W. Bush administration, Republicans all, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Central Command General David Petraeus, to name only a few.
These appointments are easily understood if we listen to Obama's rhetoric. In his State of the Union address, his most pressing theme was an appeal to Congressional Republicans for bipartisanship help, this from a president with the greatest political power since FDR, controlling the White House, the U.S. Senate, the US House of Representatives by wide margins, soon to control the US Supreme Court with the next vacancy, the prime recipient of political contributions from Wall Street and corporate America.
This young and popular president finds it necessary to confess to Congressional Republicans at a meeting he requested, that he was not an "ideologue," that his health reform bill was not a "Bolshevik plot", that "the American people...... didn't send us to Washington to fight each other....., they sent us to Washington to work together, to get things done....."
Quite a defensive statement from the elected leader of Earth's only superpower.
President Obama knows that it is virtually impossible for the Congress to pass controversial legislation in an election-year, especially year 2010. Republicans, Democrats and independents are already complaining about failures to solve domestic and foreign problems in 2009, assigning most of the blame to the Democrats, the party in power and especially to the new and inexperienced president.
President Obama’s answer is bipartisanship, that the country's problems require unity of purpose and action, that he is ready, willing, even anxious to forgo political advantage to obtain the cooperation of the Republicans. And he can prove this by his unprecedented outreach to the rival party, his continuous praise of Ronald Reagan, and above all by his appointment of key Republican leaders to key administration posts.
Obama may even believe in bipartisanship rather than the political clash of economic and social interests expected in a democratic society. However, confronted with expectations greater than he can satisfy, Obama’s turn to bipartisanship may help the Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections and Obama when he runs for his second term in 2012. He may not be able to solve the nation's problems with bipartisanship, but he may be able to convince the voters to reassess the blame and to spread it broadly
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