Ambinder: White House will reverse Obama’s slump in polls by being even more bipartisan; Will bribe Dem members of Congress with pork to get votes




Marc Ambinder, who in the past has written a number of pieces that struck Joe and me as stories planted by the White House, has quite a doozy today. Apparently, Obama is going to go even more bipartisan, he’s going to leave it to Congress to sell the public on his own campaign promises on health care reform, and he’s going to buy votes on the health care bill.

1. The White House is finally worried that Obama’s brand is being tarnished. Joe and I have written a lot lately about our concerns that Obama’s constant caving on issues, and backtracking on promises, is damaging his brand. The White House is convinced that Obama’s slipping approval numbers – he’s down to 50%, and dropping – can be reversed by showing independents how bipartisan he truly is.

More worrisome, officials said, was the growing belief that Obama’s brand is being tarnished. A new Pew poll shows that voters don’t think Obama is working with Republican leaders, and that a plurality blame Republican leaders. They believe that Obama’s favorability rating declines, largely from independents (and within that group, women), can be reversed if he reminds these voters of the bipartisan instincts in his bones.

You see, according to the polls, after caving on so many issues, including gay rights, giving the GOP 40% of the stimulus bill for tax cuts even though only 3 of them voted for it, and now abandoning the public option in health care reform while the GOP continues to oppose even co-ops, independents still don’t believe that Obama is being bipartisan. So he’s going to double up to be even more bipartisan.

What’s next, switching parties?

2. The president still doesn’t realize that he’s now the president. He apparently thinks, according to White House officials, that he has no role in influencing the public debate on health care reform. It’s all Congress. This is the same argument the White House is using to justify its inaction on Obama’s gay rights promises – it’s Congress’ domain, not his.

Privately, White House aides have communicated to the House leadership that the onus on changing minds about the public plan is on Congress, not on the president.

Why is that? Why is the onus on Congress to change the public’s mind on health care reform when we’re doing health care reform because it was Obama’s top priority for his entire presidency? The president has the bully pulpit, not Congress. Since when does the president abdicate responsibility on leading the nation towards specific policy goals? We are now seeing a trend whereby this White House refuses to take a position, refuses to take the lead, on issue after issue that during the campaign the president claimed he would fiercely advocate. The White House has decided that it’s not worth sticking the president’s neck out, using his political capital, on the number one priority of his entire presidency. (We saw some of this already yesterday.) That should give everyone pause.

3. Ambinder says that the White House is going to bribe individual Democratic members of Congress with pork projects in order to convince them to vote for the health care bill, even if it’s gutted by “bipartisanship.” That should do wonders for Obama’s numbers.

Quietly, to secure and keep Democrats on board, the White House is going to bargain, providing inducements, like more money for favored projects, etc., in order to secure individual votes.

Here’s a thought. If the president is going to bribe members of Congress to support his initiatives, then why not bribe them to support a good one? Why cave? I mean, we’re already going to waste taxpayer money on pork projects in order to get a bill passed – so why not make it a good bill, the bill you promised?


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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