Obama’s post-partisan timeline
If someone likes Obama because he was a partisan that attacked the right (after running on being a post-partisan uniter), then hey, that's fine: it’s honest. But if they pull up the canard that the tone in America is all because of Republicans, or that Republicans hated Obama because "racism", then I'm going to remind them of the actual history. The left often attacks the right for being obstructionist, by ignoring their own obstructionism first. I'll remind them of the latter. That's not to forgive the right, but to remember context. We owe it to ourselves and others, to remember what actually happened.
Bush vs Obama
- the first major piece of legislation the unilateral George W. Bush pushed was NCLB (No Child Left Behind). He passed it by going to the opposition party (Teddy Kennedy (D)) and asked HIM to write the legislation in a way that was palatable for Democrats, and then GWB pushed the Republicans to get on board with minor edits. That's bipartisan. The TSA, and many other things were very bipartisan, even though the Democrats were bald face lying about the programs they signed on to later. Bush compromised so much that he lost support in his own party (that's bipartisan). Now the reason he was bipartisan probably had to do with trying to heal the nation after a contested election -- but whatever the cause, there's no one that's able to show a single bill that Obama passed, where he reached out to the other side first.
- Obama was elected on the idea of being a post-partisan ("No Red America, no Blue America, but the United States of America"), he was also going to be a fiscal hawk (he campaigned on budget deficits under Bush, and was part of the Senate's effort to use the debt celling to defund the Iraq War and medicaid part D deficits), he promised not to raise taxes on the middle class, was completely 100% against FISA and domestic spying, was going to be the most open administration ever, there was the implied improvement of race relations over being the first black President, fixing foreign policy with a restart, repairing the economy, and of course healthcare reform. The Republicans were skeptical because Obama torpedo'd (injected a poison pill which derailed) the only effort at a bipartisan bill while he was in the Senate.
What did Obama do to extend the olive branch?
- 2009.01.05 - Republicans were positive and hopeful after their first meeting with the President elect. He promised to be bipartisan, and that both side would work together on the Stimulus, and the two sides could get things done. Then Pelosi's Court blocked any input from the Republicans, turned the Stimulus into a Democrat Special Interest hand-out, refused to take a single Republican interest or concern into account, and attacked the Republicans for not going along. 
- 2009.01.20 - Inauguration over-the-top neo-classical columns and pageantry, and fawning Press and celebrations, felt like spiking the football and dancing the end-zone -- and Obama certainly didn't play it down or humble (as one would if they wanted to set a bipartisan tone). He blamed Bush for everything, claimed to slow the oceans rise, and prodded the other side in the least gracious speech of my lifetime. (1)
- 2009.01.21 - Pelosi / Reid block Republicans from offering anything for 90 days. In politics, this is called drawing first blood. You don't censor/silence the opposition and claim bipartisanism.
- 2009.01.23 - 3 days in, and in his first meeting with House Republicans (over his stimulus) Obama said while disregarding Republican concerns, "Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won”, then he ignored all their concerns and stopped talking to Republicans (with zero concessions made). (1a) This set the tone, and arrogant pompous jerk that considered his win, enough to justify any action his side took (and to disregard the other sides concerns, on everything).
- 2009.01.29 - Pulled any concessions/concerns the other side had with the issue, then passed the partisan and contentious Lilly Ledbetter Act (2)
- 2009.02.04 - SCHIP was once a popular bipartisan bill (passed under a Republican controlled congress/senate). But Democrats removed means testing, added in sponsorship for illegal immigrants (mini Dream-Act which had partly derailed immigration reform a year or two before), made it more partisan. added a cigarette/tobacco tax (breaking Obama's "no new taxes" for those making under $250K on day 15). Then passed it without any Republican support. (3)
- 2009.02.17 - $819 billion economic stimulus (Porkulus) passed without a single republican vote, because it was a hyper-partisan hand-out to democrats. It was passed with promises of shovel ready jobs, but only that line was shovel ready. A couple years in, it was discovered that less that 4% of the spending had gone to infrastructure, most went to Democratic districts or supporters as hand-outs. President lied continuously claiming it created 1.6M jobs per year, or 3.5M total when the economy was actually down by at least that many more jobs during that same time -- and once it was failing to produce what it promised, he failed to keep up with obligations in the law (and campaign for the law), like putting out quarterly reports on it's progress. (4)
- 2009.03.11 - The omnibus appropriations bill (PL-111-8), the democrats loved combining spending into these omnibus bills, so that you had to support stem cell research or oppose the budget entirely, instead of being more open and transparent. This bill had all sorts of things in it like subsidizing embryonic stem cell research, and things that were just the middle finger to conservatives. This was the Obama/Pelosi/Reid way to reach out across the aisle and be bipartisan.
- 2009.05.15 - Nancy Pelosi accuses the CIA of "misleading congress" with regards to waterboarding, and that she was never told about it, when multiple people in the room said she was there on multiple occasions and was well informed. The Republicans ask for a probe to find out if she was lying or CIA is. In another partisan vote, the Democrat rally around obstruction/opacity over the truth and blocked that: they weren't going to let congress expose a bald faced lie by their speaker (5)
- 2009.05.20 - Republican Paul Ryan puts up the Republican proposed Patient's Choice Act (H.R 2520) - one of 14 different healthcare bills the Republicans had proposed or cosponsored. (This was the most comprehensive, but there was also John Bohner's H.R. 4038, Tom Cobhern's S. 1099, Wyden and Bennett had a bipartisan bill S. 334 and S. 391 that they'd been pushing since GWB was in office). Obama demogogued in August and later September and throughout the whole debate, that it was his plan or nothing. And lies that the "Republicans haven't offered a single bill" and have "no ideas" to fix healthcare. Which is part of what infuriated Joe Wilson so much. Republicans had offered lots of bills and input but the Democrats blocked all of them. Saying "this is the best plan" is politics, lying that "this is the only plan" is not a way to reach across the aisle. Pelosi or Reid wanted an party-line omnibus bill with no Republican contributions, so they blocked all their input, and wrote OUT any conditions that might be seen as concessions. Obama went along. (6)
- 2009.06.24 - Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (Pub.L. 111–32) (QQ) - stunt where the only way they would pay for supplemental war funding, was if they tacked on give-aways like the boondoggle cash-for-clunkers. (7) They later complained that Republicans were holding the budget hostage to tax cuts but they were doing this regularly. They'd only fund the war if you burned down perfectly good cars (in a demonstration of the Broken Window fallacy).
- 2009.09.09 - President Obama was lying to the American people, in front of congress, and demogoguing about how Republicans hadn't offered a single healthcare alternative (because Pelosi and Reid had blocked the 14 bills Republicans offered), and he was lying about how the ACA wouldn't cover a single Illegal Alien or "if you liked your plan you could keep it" (after Democrats had blocked Republican efforts to add those stipulation to the ACA), that's when Joe Wilson lost it and said, “You lie!" -- because Obama was flat out lying. The ACA had zero enforcement or ID checking to prevent covering illegal aliens, and the Democrats had opposed multiple attempts by Republicans to add those clauses (as well as the rest of the bills/concerns). (8) ACA eventually passed — and guess what? It covers illegal aliens as Joe Wilson had said, you couldn’t keep your plan, so it might have been rude, but his outburst was proven true.
- 2009.10.08 - Obama's ACA violated his campaign promises to reach across the aisle, and to let bills sit for 5-10 day waiting periods before signing (so the public could read it), and it was passed through dirty procedural tricks (deem and pass). During this, they had the locks changed and physically locked Republicans out of the room while “negotiating” (with only each other). (9)
- 2009.10.26 to present - Fast and Furious / Gunrwalking scandal. This was where BATF under Holder was selling guns to Mexican drug cartels, failing to track them, and finally some Americans (including Brian Terry) were shot with them. They'd failed to track the guns -- and it was to go along with a narrative the administration had invented that Mexico's gun problems were because of the U.S., and this had been an effort to prove it (and justify a push for more gun control). Republicans wanted an investigation into how things could go this bad, and who ordered it? The most transparent administration ever blocked it, and Obama gave Holder "executive privilege" to obstruct the investigation and prevent the transparency he'd promised. When asked about this, they lied and said this was a follow on to a much smaller effort during the Bush administration (called Wide Receiver): but that was done without President or Cabinet involvement, and when it had similar problems in 2007, it had been shut down with the recommendation to never try anything this stupid again (which the Obama administration had ignored). (10)
- 2010.10.23 - Mitch McConnell said that he wanted to make Obama, "a one-term President", almost 2 years INTO the administration, during the 2010 campaign. Democrats to this day, lie about it, and imply that McConnell said that on day-1 or early in the Obama Presidency. But this was long after Obama/Pelosi/Reid had been the most partisan administration in history. Obama set the tone in day 3 with his “I won” quip, and disregarding every concern of the other side. Then he and his supporters were thin-skinned when they lost congress, and the Senate. But it was his (and Pelosi/Reid) and their supporters that set the tone and caused friction we’re seeing to this day. And their inability to own anything they’ve done (and denial of History), magnifies that friction. (11)
The point isn't go team-Red and boo team-Blue. I don't care what team someone is on, or who they like or not. I just care who is lying and who is telling the truth.
- Someone claiming the Republicans were obstructionist from Day-1 or that democrats only got nasty after the Republicans said they wanted Obama out, are lying (misremembering). And I want to defend the truth against their imagination.
- Some claim this partisan McConnell said that he wanted to make Obama, "a one term President" first, and usually then a bunch of imagined exaggerated claims. The problem is, Mitch only said that in Oct 2010 and the run-up to election: but that was nearly 2 years after Obama had been one of the most contentious and hyper-partisan Presidents in my lifetime. The Democrats had a super-majority, and decided that meant they would walk all over the Republicans for two years: ignoring any of their concerns and not seeking or offering a single concession -- just stepping on them like they weren't there, and lying about their issues/events in public. It was AFTER all the things mentioned above, for 2 years of the Democrats behaving badly, that the Republicans started retaliating and being obstructionist.
You don't silence politicians, lie about their positions, refuse to compromise, and call all their constituents racists for disagreeing, then wonder why they're not interested in working with you. At least not if you're being rational.
If you listen to any Obama speech, it involves either (a) false dichotomy fallacy, ("there's my way, or nothing"), or (b) building a straw man of the other side ("the Republicans want to throw grandma off a cliff, I want to give her healthcare"). Both of those are ways to polarize people against you, not an effort to find common ground. Find me a speech where Obama doesn't do that, and I'll add it in here. Seriously. So far, no one has been able to find a single speech where he wasn't a douchebag to the other side. This is why I sometimes mock him as the great divider. The President is the leader, and the leader sets the tone. So don't act shocked when his smug alienation is met with hostility by the other side. Obama administration (and Pelosi/Reid) had 2 years to live up to his campaign promises of being a post-partisan, and no one has ever been able to point to a single action where they tried to throw a bone to the other side or work with them in any way.
(1) 2009.01.20 - Inauguration
- The speech and events were less dignified than in the past, and the speech itself was a bit more biting and snotty than most, with comments like, "Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some [republicans]".
- It had socialist sounding dogma, "begin again the work of remaking America", "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply" (remaking? the other sides opinions no longer apply? I didn't vote for dictator, what happened to a post-partisan that wanted to unite both sides?).
- Lots of liberal dog whistle points (like "leave Iraq", "Lessen Nuclear Threat", "roll back the specter of warming planet"), mixed with soaring rhetoric, cheap shots, and soon to be broken promises. It was the more partisan of inauguration speeches of my lifetime. This was magnified by the Press's fawning adoration (in contrast to continuous Bush bashing), and things like getting the Nobel Peace Prize for most frequent use of drones of any President ever.
- Even if the Press didn't notice the partisan tone and barbs, and magnified it, the point is it grated the other side and was not the tone of a bipartisan uniter, sensitive to the interests of both sides. Compare it to Bush's acceptance speech if you want to see what a far more bipartisan acceptance speech sounds like.
- http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres66.html <- Compare tone against Bush's inauguration speech
(1a) “I won"
(2) Lilly Ledbetter
- This was a partisan democrat gift to tort lawyers (one of the democrats favorite special interest, who had supported them well during the 2008 election). This law overrode the Supreme Court ruling that the equal opportunity act should apply equally to women as any other minority, and said that Women are a special class, and that companies aren't just liable while someone works there, or for 6 months after they leave (the time they have to start filing a lawsuit), but that Women ONLY can file discrimination charges over 19 years after the supposed discrimination happened (in her case in 1979, versus 1998 filing). Not bipartisan, or well written law -- but a hand-out to democrats. Every time they bring it up, they lie/omit the details of this laws and why it was opposed, and try to make it about sexist pig republicans.
- Lack of means testing and illegal immigrant coverage had made the expansion more partisan. In a milder form, it had been veto'd twice under GWB because it expanded federal government into healthcare too much. Once the Democrats got power instead of compromising or being bipartisan, they pulled out prior compromise conditions and passed an even more partisan version, ignored the Republicans concerns, shut down a rancorous debate, and won a mostly partisan vote that set a bad tone. Democrat supporters of the bill (like Karen Ignagni) said when faced with Republican complaints, "we're not seeing bipartisanship", ignoring that's because they had intentionally made it more partisan and were ignoring the other sides concerns.
(5) Nancy Pelosi CIA accusations
(6) Republican Healthcare bills
(7) Cash for clunkers
(8) Joe Wilson
(9) Locked out of the room
(10) Fast and Furious / Gun-walking
- After a prior, much more modest, failure of allowing gun-walking it was advised by the ATF and everyone involved to never try that again. Obama's DOJ decided to try it again, this time without coordinating with the Mexican authorities, and removing more controls on the weapons, and allowed over 2,000 arms to go across the border to try to prove that Mexican drug lords were buying guns illegally in the U.S. and using them for their cartel's. The ATF was against it and complained but was overruled by the Attorney General's office. When a large cache of some of these weapons (along with rocket launchers and other military equipment) was found, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "we are losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico", which telegraphed the most likely motivation for this: creating an excuse for Obama / Democrats agenda of increasing gun control. The Republicans quickly started investigating how all these weapons got into the wrong hands, found the source was the U.S. government (under Holder's office pressure), and Holder hijacked the investigation and claiming he had just heard about it in the last few weeks (later proven a lie). Whistleblowers came forward and showed they were forced by DOJ to do this, so they were punished (against Whistleblower laws). And after years of obstructing justice, lies and withholding information, Eric Holder because the first attorney general to ever be held in Contempt of Congress. Obama not only didn't fire him for that, he used Executive Priviledge to bury Holder's perjury where it won't be found until both are long out of office. The only likely reason for executive privilege applying is because of the WhiteHouse's involvement in the whole affair, or executive privilege wouldn't apply. But the point was the President's administration was not the slightest but open or bi-partisan in any of this.
(11) One Term President
- Even in this fawning NYT piece they call the 111th Congress, "the most productive congress ever", done on party line votes and offering no concessions to the other side. Then they reluctantly admit this hyper-partisanism may cost them later (in backlash to their lash): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/23/us/politics/23cong.html?_r=0
- Initial Meeting on Stimulus: https://www.c-span.org/video/?283126-1/republican-reaction-meeting-obama