President Obama zeroed in Wednesday night on the only two ways he can pass the items on his ambitious second term agenda. One is to persuade enough Republicans to compromise with him. The other is to win back the House. He’s simultaneously trying to do both.
It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
First, the simple. To pass bills, you need votes. And Obama has been courting Republicans he thinks are most likely to meet him somewhere in the middle. In the president’s “charm offensive,” Obama has eschewed the negotiations with GOP leadership that produced standoff after standoff in his first term in favor of courting key rank and file members.
“For me to govern effectively over the next three, three and a half years, part of my task is to constantly, continually reach out to the other side to try to find common ground; to look for those Republicans who don’t think compromise is a dirty word,” Obama said Wednesday night at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Chicago.
While the concept is simple, the execution is difficult. Look no further than the debate over guns, which culminated in the defeat of expanded background checks on gun sales, a proposal offered up by a bipartisan team that had the support of 90 percent of Americans.
If he doesn’t get the compromise he seeks, Obama said Wednesday, he has another plan.
“If day in, day out, what we confront is obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism and what appears to be an interest only in scoring political points or placating a base, as opposed to trying to advance the interests of the American people, then we’ve got to figure out a way to …