By Bob L.
Obama is some thing else, he makes the comment about telling the Republicans there is plenty of time to campaign in 2012, but for him the time to start campaigning is when he was Elected in 2009 and he has not stopped campaigning since, just look how much rest AIR FORCE ONE has since he took office. So look who is throwing stones.
By Sam Youngman: President Obama’s strategy for dealing with the new Republican majority in the House is to stay above the fray and look presidential for the 2012 race.
By Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers: I think we can expect to see some gridlock, not a lot of big things happening but Obama trying to appear more moderate for his re-election.
By JULIE PACE: Republicans readying to run for his job, the administration will simultaneously be laying the groundwork for Obama’s re-election bid, which will be operated out of Chicago.
By Sam Youngman
The president gave a preview of that strategy during his trip home from his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, when he ventured back to Air Force One’s press cabin and suggested he would essentially take a spectator’s role while House Republicans beat their chests and howl.
Asked specifically if he was prepared to deal with a GOP attempt to repeal healthcare reform, Obama seemed somewhat blasé about the priorities of the new Congress.
“I think that there’s gonna be politics, that’s what happens in Washington,” Obama said before his flight landed Tuesday. “They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time.”
When pressed on the matter, the president wished the press a happy new year and simply walked away.
Get used to that as a strategy.
White House officials say Obama has more to lose than gain by getting dragged into the fiery rhetoric. And with a Senate Democratic majority and Obama wielding a veto pen, Republicans will be hard-pressed to win approval of their most far-reaching plans to roll back the Obama agenda.
Obama, meanwhile, believes he can maintain his stature by staying above the fray.
Right off the bat, the new Republican majority in the House has scheduled a vote to repeal healthcare reform while making plans to launch a series of investigations into the White House. The GOP is also engaging in some serious saber-rattling over raising the federal debt ceiling.
Obama’s response: Go ahead. Make my reelect.
The White House thinks Obama has gotten his 2012 reelection campaign off to a great start, with a lame-duck session that saw Congress approve legislation repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning gays from serving openly in the military, as well as the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
Administration officials believe the president picked up a laundry list of victories he can boast of on the campaign trail without losing his losing his cool or falling for the temptation of getting into a daily tit-for-tat with a re-energized GOP.
The only time the president did seem to get agitated was when he was dressing down members of his own party at a press conference during the lame duck, evidence that Obama does not fear his base the way Republican leaders fear the conservative Tea Party.
And the professional left, promising to keep pushing Obama to fight for their platform, will continue to hear their pleas ignored as Obama stiff-arms the extreme left of his own party.
One official pointed to the debate surrounding the arms treaty, perhaps Obama’s highest priority for the lame duck, as an example of what the administration thinks will be a successful strategy.
The treaty appeared doomed weeks before its passage, with Senate Republicans insisting they needed more time for debate. Failure to move the treaty would have been a deep international embarrassment to a president just one year removed from winning the Nobel Peace Prize in part for his anti-nuclear efforts.
Obama ended up winning the 67 votes needed for ratification with room to spare, and the White House believes the president succeeded by refusing to politicize his rhetoric in the debate despite his passion for the issue.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs played nice on the matter; he and other aides rolled out high-profile Republican supporters and did not use the bully pulpit to tear into Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the Republican who led opposition to the treaty. For those who had seen the press secretary harshly attack White House opponents, he appeared to some like a muzzled attack dog on a short leash.
Need more proof that the White House is sticking with an “above the fray” strategy? Look no further than the White House’s response to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee and potentially the biggest headache for Obama in the coming months.
There wasn’t one.
After Issa this week wrote a letter to Big Business asking for their input on which administration regulations should be investigated, the White House decided against portraying Republicans as beholden to the industry, and offered no comment.
A statement came instead from the Democratic National Committee, which will do the blocking and tackling for Obama as the GOP goes on offense.
Obama returned to Washington Tuesday with his approval ratings on the rise and Republicans ready for war. If the president and his aides can continue to hold their tongues while Republicans howl at the moon, the White House thinks Obama will be well on his way to creating the perception he wants voters to have in 2012: a centrist president with high approval ratings, a list of wins and a GOP that looks like it would rather fight symbolic battles than solve problems.
- GOP 2011: Repeal, oppose, subpoena (salon.com)
- Issa pledges to take on White House over spending (thenewstribune.com)
- Is Obama ready for an emboldened GOP? (capitolhillblue.com)