Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 20, 2008

RAHM'S REPUBLICAN OUTREACH.... No one seriously expects congressional Republicans to roll up their sleeves and start working with Democrats on policy solutions. That's just not how this game is played.

The question is how open GOP lawmakers are to outreach. The New York Times reported this morning that the House Republican caucus has "so far balked" at a chance to meet with the incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, but Emanuel spent the day on the Hill anyway, and had some individual meetings with Republicans willing to let him in their offices.

Incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said President-elect Barack Obama wants to work with Republicans, saying the new chief executive will "welcome their ideas" on how to resolve the ongoing financial crisis the country faces.

Emanuel met today with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the entire GOP leadership from that chamber for about 30 minutes, and is currently huddling with House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.). A one-on-one session with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) will follow the Pence meeting.

Emanuel noted that he personally had spoken to almost two dozen Republicans in the last two weeks to tell them that the new administration is serious about bipartisan cooperation.

"We welcome their ideas and their concepts," Emanuel told reporters after his meeting with McConnell and other Senate Republicans. "It's challenging times economically. The middle class is working harder, earning less and paying more. The challenges facing the country require that people of both parties work together to solve those problems."

"I told them that I welcome their ideas, be that in their area of education, health care, taxes, energy policy, national security," Emanuel added. "Give us those ideas, because we are formulating what we're going to do in the Obama administration."

Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said Emanuel demonstrated "a really good attitude about wanting to work with us" in his meeting with Senate Republicans, but noted there were no detailed policy negotiations during their conversation with Obama's new top aide.

Ensign, referring to Emanuel, added, "He gave us all his personal cell phone. He said he promised to get back us on issues within 24 hours."

Incoming NRSC Chair John Cornyn praised Emanuel's outreach. "He thought it was important enough to come over and spend an hour with us," Cornyn said. "[That] speaks volumes, more than just what he said."

Ensign added that that he was "very pleased" with today's conversation, and was optimistic about the future. "His words were basically 'this is not a head-fake on bipartisanship. This is real.' They really want to work in a bipartisan fashion and it's not about just saying it, they actually plan on doing it," Ensign said. "Those are exactly the right words to use."

Will this last? I doubt it. But at least they're getting off on the right foot, right?

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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... if the Republicans actually have anything to offer other than cut taxes, break up unions, bomb Iran, and block gay marriage. Obama has been right so many times this past year I'm not second-guessing this move. The GOP must have a few worthwhile ideas.

Posted by: dennisS on November 20, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Who will they be more open to? The Left or Republicans?

I honestly don't know.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on November 20, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ho-hum, nothing new here--Obama/Emanuel is the good cop to Bush's cop. And sadly, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

(though I'm not sure about Rahm Emanuel being a good cop. An AIPAC guy, all the way, his father a member or Irgun, the Jewish terrorist organization, and Rahm himself a dual citizen--USA-Israel. Question: what would people make of a dual citizen Palestinian as Obama's chief-of-staff?)

But we're in a new ballgame here: the empire is over!
Our empire is broke, the spirit is lacking, the oil is peaking and the leadership is truly Roman.
Time to sit back and relax and enjoy the aftermath of empire--quiet nights at home, no running off to invade and torture, no more ponzi scheming, alchemisty whiz kids on Wall Street turning toxic mortgages into gold--now we can go quietly into the night and be like other post empire countries--Spain, Britain and Holland.

Posted by: Dr Wu, I'm just an ordinary guy on November 20, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe, just maybe the Republicans balk at meeting with him because they have become so accustomed to the Bush Administration's and their own "my way or the highway" approach to negotiating with Democracts that they've forgotten how true negotgiation works and figure it won't be worth their time.

Posted by: Larry Reilly on November 20, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is wary, and based on their own personality traits, they should be. Back in 2000, when the election wasn't decided by the voters but the Suprememe Court, Bush promised bipartisanship, and later we learned his idea of partisanship was "here's what I'm doing. If you're against me, you'll be labelled an enemy of the state, a terrorist sympathizer, aiding the enemy or worse. If you agree with us, we'll still call you those things, but AS A GROUP. We won't single you out personally." Gee, thanks. Jackasses.

Now the shoe's on the other foot. You'd think that the GOP members of the Senate and House would hope Obama truly means what he says about bipartisanship. And to a degree, he does. But the governing philosophies inherent in the GOP are now so provably piss-poor, any politician with half a brain in his head would run from them and never look back.

To compromise with the GOP is to compromoise with ideals and principles that are toxic to our nation. Our only choice is to try to get them to come around to our way of thinking, which, to THEIR way of thinking, will come across as the same partisan threats of marginalization they practiced on the Dems for 8 years. They'll pass, and we'll have no choice but to be uber-partisan and hope just a few Republican senators will see the light, enough to cover Lieberman's defection and any other DINO's in Congress.

Posted by: slappy magoo on November 20, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has been saying from the very beginning of his campaign that he wants be a leader for all Americans. Pretty much every thing he has said and done since being elected reflects that commitment.

Why doubt that he has the will to pursue it? Will Republicans balk? Of course. Will Democrats balk? Just as certainly. But I think it's clear that he's quite serious about governing in an inclusive fashion, and I think he's going to invest a large amount of energy in doing so.

Obama has achieved essentially everything he has set out to achieve up to this point, often confounding the conventional wisdom in the process. I, for one, am a believer, including a believer in his ability to shift the governing paradigm.

Posted by: Acorvid on November 20, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ridiculous. I can tell Rahm all he will hear from the Thuglicans: cut taxes, screw the working class, kill unions, help the poor wealthy, coddle CEOs, cut regulation to zero, pollute baby pollute!, drill baby drill!

That's it. ALL they have to say.

Oh, I forgot: Punish women for being women. FORCE them to have babies NO MATTER WHAT!

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on November 20, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

They're probably completely confused by the whole thing. Since their version of bipartisanship was to to just bully the other side into signing on to their nonsense.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on November 20, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is a great sign, and I hope it keeps up. A good leader who listens can work wonders, and I think we're transitioning from a poor leader who never listened.

Personally, I feel this is already starting to vindicate my choice for President.

Posted by: Franklin on November 20, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hard to say, but I think he may prove to be the best pic of all.

Posted by: hard to say on November 20, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Ensign of Nevada has a long record of lockstep participation in the Bush agenda.

He will also be running to keep his seat in 2012, at the same time Obama is running for re-election. Obama is very popular in Nevada; his coattails were long here on Nov. 4. Ensign wants to keep his seat, so he'll make nice with the Senate Dems.

Posted by: RobW on November 20, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

This will last until the point at which the Republicans realize that the Obama administration listens intently to their ideas, but doesn't implement any of them.

From what I can understand, this has been Obama's MO when dealing with people he disagrees with for a long time.

This isn't a bad thing at all--people tend to mind genuine disagreement less when they feel their concerns have been taken seriously--but I don't know if it's a basis for a long-term working partnership.

Posted by: TW Andrews on November 20, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

We'll have to see what Obama does with republicans that are committed only to his destruction.

Posted by: MNPundit on November 20, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's not looking to bring the Republicans 100% on board. He just needs enough on board to prevent filibusters and maybe pick up a few to help along some legislation. While the conservative movement is out of good ideas, individual legislators might have individual good ideas in some narrow areas, and these can be incorporated to get them on board with the larger agenda.

He might also be blunting the Republican's paranoid style of governance. But Chris Shays isn't in office any longer, so we'll see how it works.

But I'm trusting Obama for now, since he hasn't done anything I've told him to do and still seems to have made it to POTUS.

Posted by: inkadu on November 20, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO, nothing beats face time.

Posted by: Daddy Love on November 20, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

This will last until the point at which the Republicans realize that the Obama administration listens intently to their ideas, but doesn't implement any of them.

From what I can understand, this has been Obama's MO when dealing with people he disagrees with for a long time.

Heh. I thought I'd heard something along those lines. That's a good management style to use when you're dealing with a mix of good people and idiots - listen to them all equally, make sure they all know that they're opinions and thoughts are valued, treat every one of them as equally valid, and then implement the smart ideas and ignore the dumb ones. A really good manager can even convince the idiots that he's actually implementing their ideas when he's doing the exact opposite of what they wanted.

I'm also figuring that Obama knows he's going to need to compromise with conservative Dems in the House and Senate to get anything done, so he might as well find some Republicans who might well be just slightly to the right of those conservative Dems (or, on occasion, just slightly to the left) and convince them that he's moving right to get their votes (when he's actually already compromising to get all the Dems on board). With the low numbers of GOPers in the House, all it takes is a few to jump ship and suddenly bills that could have been a partisan litmus test become magically "bipartisan", and defuse criticism from the stupid on the editorial pages of record. (And that sort of thing is going to be necessary in the Senate anyway, where 60 Dems or 57 Dems it doesn't matter - there's enough of a bloc of conservatives to prevent cloture regardless of whether they have a (D) or an (R) by their names.)

Posted by: NonyNony on November 20, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK
They're probably completely confused by the whole thing. Since their version of bipartisanship was to to just bully the other side into signing on to their nonsense.

"Bipartisanship is another name for date rape" according to Grover Norquist

Posted by: kenga on November 20, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

ah, just another congregation of the two major sects of the plutocrat party.

Posted by: albertchampion on November 20, 2008 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds good until your realize that to ReThuglicans, "bipartisanship" means doing what THEY want.

And that seems to be what it means to a lot of the MSM -- Democrats doing what ReThuglicans want is "bipartisan."

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 20, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's a good start, yes. But look at the effusive praise for Emanuel offered by every Republican quoted in the article. To me, that means they're saying "Yeah, fine, so far so good. Now start caving in on some policy points and we might actually believe you're being bipartisan."

In other words, they're encouraging Emanuel (and Obama), but they're playing hard to get.

Not so encouraging after all. What remains to be seen is how Emanuel/Obama react. At what point will they say "The hell with you. We gave you a chance to participate, it's not our fault if you let it go."?

Posted by: DrGail on November 20, 2008 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

There have been times when I'd have been happier if he went in and called 'em all a bunch of f'in punks and white trash. But, in today's tough times I'm glad he was able to restrain himself and just offer to work with them if they will communicate their ideas.

It's something I can hardly imagine a Republican CoS doing with sincerity.

Posted by: MarkH on November 20, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, please, tell us your ideas, so we can put them up on the big "DO NOT DO THESE THINGS" board in the office...

Posted by: tatere on November 21, 2008 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK



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