In his State of the Union speech last week President Obama sounded like leftist media and political types who have labelled Republicans as the "party of 'No.'" First forgetting the blockage Democrats put on President Bush (remember the Gang of 14 agreement so Bush judicial nominees could get through the Senate? Just one example.), then forgetting that Republicans have stood in the way of nothing since Democrats have had enough votes in the Senate and House of Representatives to pass any legislation they want. So because one or two Republicans would not cross the aisle and join the Democrats in bad legislation, legislation so bad it could not get passed with super majorities in both Houses, the Republicans are the party of "No."
It seems to me that the Democrats are the party of "maybe but only if you bribe me or my constituents or special interest group campaign financers." By sticking together as a party the Republicans have actually been helping President Obama from not violating more campaign pledges than he already has.
Throughout the campaign Obama pledged bi-partisan efforts if he were elected. His first year in office his only attempt at bi-partisanship was practically moving in with GOP Senator Olivia Snowe to get her to support the Senate's version of health care reform--in the Democrats eyes all you need is one vote and they can scream, "we had bi-partisan support!" Again in the State of the Union Obama said bi-partisanship was needed for Washington to work properly. We all know the definition of bi-partisan here means, "they need to put aside their principals and pledges they made to their voters and support our legislation without any changes."
Republicans rightfully rejected this definition of bi-partisanship, and Senator Snowe took back Obama's guest key. As a result the Democrats, if they were going to pass health care would have to do so alone. The bill is theirs for all the credit and all the blame. Because no health care bill has been passed, nor Cap and Trade, Obama still technically has not violated his pledge to voters to be bi-partisan. If Snowe had fallen to Obama's pressures then he, and the Democrats would have falsely screamed "bi-partisan support!" and looked like fools to the American people.
On Friday President Obama made the very unusual, and I believe unique, move of appearing before the Republican Caucus House Retreat in Maryland. He gave a televised address and had a question and answer period. Having just lit the GOP up in his State of the Union it was a political gamble for Obama to make this appearance and he gets plenty of credit for doing so.
At the GOP retreat, Obama admitted that the Republicans opposition to the Senate health care bill, and the subsequent inability of the House to pass the Senate version (thus far) has allowed Obama to keep another of his pledges to the American people (thus far).
Said Obama to the gathering:
We said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your--if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.
So had the Senate and House Democrats passed the health care bill that Obama and his Administration were strongly pushing, and denigrating all who opposed it, then they would have passed a bill that was a consistent pledge of the President: no bill would violate the insurance you currently have, no bill would take away your doctor, no bill would get between you and your doctor, and no increase in taxes or fees for your insurance.
So if you hear anyone saying that Obama is doing a decent job of keeping his campaign promises and pledges to the American people you can tell them, "he can thank the Republicans for that because he and the Democrats in Congress wanted to violate those pledges."
But don't expect any credit to be given to the Republicans for making this President stick to any pledges made on the campaign trail, or since taking the oath of office.