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July 17, 2011 2:25 PM The pattern that ‘puzzles’ the president

By Steve Benen

At his press conference the other day, President Obama noted the recommendations of the bipartisan deficit-reduction commission (which, by the way, failed to reach an agreement). He mentioned in passing that his White House set up the structure for the commission: “As you will recall, this was originally bipartisan legislation that some of the Republican supporters of decided to vote against when I said I supported it — that seems to be a pattern that I’m still puzzled by.”

It is, to be sure, quite a pattern. For two-and-a-half years, Obama has run into congressional Republicans who not only refuse to take “yes” for an answer, but routinely oppose their own ideas when the president is willing to accept them.

This seems especially relevant in the context of the current debt-reduction talks. At a certain level, it’s almost comical — here we have a Democratic president agreeing with a conservative Republican House Speaker on a massive deal that would lower the debt by over $4 trillion over the next decade. It would tilt heavily in the GOP’s direction, and address the problem Republicans pretend to care about most. Obama is even willing to consider significant entitlement “reforms,” which should be music to the ears of the right.

And yet, in the latest example that “puzzles” the president, Republicans aren’t interested.

Now, part of this is obviously the result of Republicans adopting a faith-based approach to revenue, which happens to be wildly disconnected to reality. But that’s not the only angle that matters. Matt Yglesias had a good item the other day that raised a point that’s often lost in the shuffle.

[H]ere we get to the problem that’s recurred throughout Obama’s time in office. If members of Congress think like partisans who want to capture the White House, then the smart strategy for them is to refuse to do whatever it is the president wants. The content of the president’s desire is irrelevant. But the more ambitious his desire is, the more important it is to turn him down.

After all, if the President wants a big bipartisan deal on the deficit, then a big bipartisan deal on the deficit is “a win for President Obama,” which means a loss for the anti-Obama side. When Obama didn’t want to embrace Bowles-Simpson, then failure to embrace Bowles-Simpson was a valid critique of him. But had Obama embraced Bowles-Simpson, then it would have been necessary for his opponents to reject it.

For weeks, many have marveled at the priorities of the Republican policy wish-list — given a choice between the larger debt-reduction plan in American history and preserving some tax breaks for the wealthy, GOP officials at nearly every level strongly prefer the latter. Indeed, for nearly all Republicans, it’s such a no-brainer, this question is almost silly.

But there’s a separate challenge — Republicans have a choice between advancing policies they ostensibly agree with and Obama scoring a legislative victory. And as it turns out, that’s a no-brainer, too, since GOP lawmakers don’t really care about governing so much as they care about denying the president political victories. It might make them appear ridiculous — why would anyone reject their own ideas? — but looking foolish isn’t a major concern for congressional Republicans.

Obviously, this makes compromise literally impossible, and all but guarantees the least productive legislative session in many years. But it also suggests the president needs to adapt to an awkward set of circumstances: given Republican beliefs, Obama must realize his support for a legislative idea necessarily means it’s less likely to happen.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • worcestergirl on July 17, 2011 2:40 PM:

    If Obama is truly "puzzled" then he is a fool.

    If he is not really "puzzled" and understands that Republicans want to destroy his presidency, then he is a liar.

    Either way, his willingness to coddle this nihilistic opposition is a losing strategy. It's as though he thinks that winning approval of the "kool-kids" at the Village's lunch table is all he needs to get re-elected, and that he does not need the riff-raff on the left at all.

  • yellowdog on July 17, 2011 2:46 PM:

    This phenomenon also happens with national security issues. Once Obama made passing the New Start Treaty with Russia a priority, it became harder for it to pass the Senate. Obama's support made most Senate Republicans turn their backs on decades of bipartisan nuclear arms policy. Only the grown-up behavior of a few, like Dick Lugar, kept us from a major arms-control disaster. All credit to Obama and Lugar for getting the treaty passed despite bad-faith negotiations by Kyl and the GOP leadership. Now Lugar is paying the price for being too cozy with Obama.... This is sad. It is dangerous. Is is beyond reason.

  • xando foote on July 17, 2011 2:51 PM:

    It may be a time for classical reverse psychology. If, for example, Mr. Obama had suggested that he would not support the public option during the health care debate and, in fact, would veto legislation that included it, the GOP would certainly have demanded a public option which then, of course, he would not have vetoed.

  • c u n d gulag on July 17, 2011 2:53 PM:

    Reverse psychology.

    Maybe Obama's using that when he's dangling SS and Medicare in his conversations with Republicans.

    I mean, they accused John Kerry of flip-flopping?

    Jesus, if Obama said it's a beautiful summer day today, 'let's meet!,' they'd come out in parka's, mufflers, goggles, gloves, in muk-luks and snow-shoes, driven in chauffered snowmobiles (snow-machines for Sarah).

  • KarenJG on July 17, 2011 3:06 PM:

    Well, since the captcha looks relatively decipherable, I guess I'll add my "me too" to c u n d gulag's theory - I also have wondered if Obama's "zeal" for a "big deal" isn't a head-fake/reverse psychology. After all, it's a two-fer - makes him look "serious" and "reasonable" to the muddled middle (plus the Villagers), and makes the pubs look ridiculously extreme.

  • DAY on July 17, 2011 3:08 PM:

    Obama's "puzzled" is the same as my oft-used "Curious, is it not" phrase to start a comment.

    They are rhetorical flourishes, intended to perk up ears, and lubricate the mental gears. Since both I and the President are extremely bright, neither us are 'puzzled' nor 'curious'.

    And, gulag has it exactly right: "Whatever he's for, we're against it!"

  • jjm on July 17, 2011 3:09 PM:

    Come on, you guys. Just because Obama doesn't speak in the more or less gross and bullying language we've become so dismally accustomed to in our politicians, does not mean that this is not a very nice, deft twist of the knife.

    He's been nicking and piercing their hot air balloons the whole time. They think they have him where they want him, but clearly this is the other way around.

    Before Obama, did anyone dare to reckon that the GOP was barking mad, as they were described here the other day? Did anyone dare to reckon that their hatred for him has driven them even more insane than their hatred for Bill Clinton did? Did anyone note, which even older fashioned and more statesmanlike GOP members that the crazies are now in charge of their party and are sooooo racially charged with hatred that they cannot see anything that serves the good of the country if Obama has anything to do with it?

    He's drawn them out fully: their desire to kill Medicare, their lying about whose debt this is, etc. I think the truth is dawning on the American people that the GOP is now totally dysfunctional without any redeeming merits.

  • Marc on July 17, 2011 3:09 PM:

    If Obama is truly "puzzled" then he is a fool. If he is not really "puzzled" and understands that Republicans want to destroy his presidency, then he is a liar.

    Or maybe he's someone who understands the Beltway media enough to know that the way to get them to talk about this is to float the idea gently and let them think it's their own initiative.

    He did, you know, get elected president. Maybe he knows more than you do in your awesome role as an anonymous internet blatherer.

  • TR on July 17, 2011 3:13 PM:

    I think the truth is dawning on the American people that the GOP is now totally dysfunctional without any redeeming merits.

    Great comment, and dead on.

    We on the left want Obama to scream back at the idiots on the right. But he decided to go in the other direction, to quiet down and appear incredibly reasonable -- a decision that not only provoked them to scream louder and loonier, but to create an imbalance in the Beltway narrative that was so obvious not even the most committed Broderist "both sides are to blame" idiot could stand by that tired script.

    Obama gave them the stage and they all but confessed to the crime of being venal destructive idiots.

  • Brian R. on July 17, 2011 3:20 PM:

    "It's as though he thinks that winning approval of the "kool-kids" at the Village's lunch table is all he needs to get re-elected, and that he does not need the riff-raff on the left at all."

    Sorry, you seem to be looking for FireDogLake instead of this blog.

    Walk down the street for a few blocks, head past Delusion, take a right turn at I'm Voting Nader Avenue, and then you'll see a door marked "Obama is Worse than Bush!" The password is "I am fucking insane."

    Have fun there.

  • Paul Siegel on July 17, 2011 3:39 PM:

    Obama came to Washington to change it and get Democrats and Republicans to work together. So cynical Republicans - especially Mitch McConnell - decided that he would not accomplish this. This is why Obama must continue his approach.

    Too many liberals are unhappy. They want him to call them out and to fight Republicans. Once he does this, however, he has failed in his primary mission.

    You may not think he is succeeding. But he is. Lots of negotiations are going on. They do not seem to get anywhere. But eventually Obama will turn the tide. Liberals, instead of criticizing him, should help him in this tough task.

  • worcestergirl on July 17, 2011 3:52 PM:

    Brian R,

    The question is not whether Obama is worse than Bush, it's whether Obama is any different from Romney. Obama is playing to the old Broder-esque "middle" that exists only inside the beltway.

    Romney can now easily run on "Obama offered up SS/MC, but I won't", "Obama prioritized accounting over jobs creation" "Obama helped Wall Street in TARP but failed at helping homeowners", "Obama didn't fight for the middle class but I will". Of course it will all be rhetoric, but there will be enough truth in it to win.

    The big losses in 2010 for Democrats were in the Blue Dog caucus (from 54 seats they ended up with about 26), not the progressive caucus (they lost about 4). Playing to the middle is a terrible strategy.

  • Seould on July 17, 2011 3:52 PM:

    I think he was genuinely puzzled by it back in the beginning of his administration. He was sincere when he said he wanted to change how Washington worked, so he moved to the middle and was probably shocked when the Right moved even farther to the right to deny him as many victories as possible, even though we were in a major economic crisis.

    I doubt he is at all surprised now. It looks like he has finally worked out how to use it to his advantage: occupy the middle ground (no matter how far right he has to go) and force them to reveal just how radical and extreme they are. Step by step, they are turning 'conservative' into a dirty word associated with rigid, unreasonable, hysterical...

  • mellowjohn on July 17, 2011 4:26 PM:

    with apologies to the marx brothers, harry ruby, and bert kalmar:

    We don't know what he has to say
    It makes no difference anyway
    If Obama's for it, we're against it!
    No matter what it is
    Since he commenced it
    We're against it!

    His proposition may be good
    But let's have one thing understood
    Whatever it is, we're against it!
    And even when he's changed it
    Or condensed it
    We're against it!

  • edward Haley on July 17, 2011 4:37 PM:

    I think the R's strategy is quite simple and not particularly new: they want to demonstrate to the "people" that government does not work and must be replaced by a good authoritarian (Republican) leader and get rid of this 'democratic' system.We all know that the legislators are mostly bought and paid for so the shift to dictatorial rule would be fairly easy. The Republican strategy to stop Obama at any cost ( to those of us not connected to the oligarchs) can finally yield a fascist/corporate system they have been looking for many, many years.

  • Mercury Morris on July 17, 2011 4:39 PM:

    The question is not whether Obama is worse than Bush, it's whether Obama is any different from Romney.

    If that's seriously a question for you, you really aren't paying attention. At all.

    The big losses in 2010 for Democrats were in the Blue Dog caucus (from 54 seats they ended up with about 26), not the progressive caucus (they lost about 4). Playing to the middle is a terrible strategy.

    No, playing to the middle for a presidential election is quite different from playing to the middle for congressional elections. In a presidential election, independents and swing voters -- the ones to whom Obama's recent posture of compromise and conciliation meshes perfectly, the ones to whom the GOP's entrenching will alienate completely -- determine the outcome. A congressional election is entirely the opposite. Districts are so gerrymandered with such high retention rates, that it's all about rallying the base.

    No offense, but I think a lot of your freak out here is based on the fact that you don't really understand the nature of American politics.

  • Brian R. on July 17, 2011 4:44 PM:

    "Romney can now easily run on "Obama offered up SS/MC, but I won't", "Obama prioritized accounting over jobs creation" "Obama helped Wall Street in TARP but failed at helping homeowners", "Obama didn't fight for the middle class but I will". Of course it will all be rhetoric, but there will be enough truth in it to win. "

    Seriously, what are you smoking?

    Obama will crush Romney. In Michigan and Ohio, he just has to remind them of Romney's "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" schtick and contrast that with his successful bailout.

    SS/MC? The House Republicans voted to phase out Medicare, and Romney stood by them and applauded the Ryan budget. You think that's worse than Obama vaguely mentioning "strengthening" Medicare?

    Jobs? Romney presided over the 47th best rate of job creation as governor and made his millions downsizing and putting people out of work.

    Fighting for the middle class? The millionaire who jokes that he's unemployed now too?

    Seriously, put down the bong.

  • lou on July 17, 2011 5:00 PM:

    Digging into the roots of this would be a good project for a good journalist. When did this start? Any signs while Obama was in the US Senate or even a state legislator in IL? What was said during the campaign, primary and general that would show a developing conspiracy among the GOP to undermine Obama? What are they and who founded this return to early 19th century politics? All that differs are the dualing matches.

  • worcestergirl on July 17, 2011 5:05 PM:

    Mercury Morris (I loved you on the gridiron! haha) & Brian:

    I hope you are right and Obama creams the Republican candidate. But I see a really close race. From Massachusetts I have been following the local press for Romney in NH and it does not bode well. Romney has been making all kinds of absurd claims, and the local media is pretty much in "he said/she said" mode. So far there has been nothing about Romney's actual job record, and in fact, his time in office was so short there is not much for people to feel sore about. Time will tell, but I never count on "the Truth" making much headway with the right wing.

    Remember, Scott Brown won in MA, and NH is in full right-wing mode, to the extent that they are all fired up about that evil of all evils, Planned Parenthood.

  • chi res on July 17, 2011 5:13 PM:

    @worcestergirl

    First of all, grow up. You should stop calling yourself a girl if you're actually a woman. It's unbecoming in political discussions to try to play the "cutie".

    Second, if you think Obama is "truly puzzled" by Republican intransigence, then you're the fool.

    Third, why don't you come down to the bar where I hang out on the southside of Chicago and start calling Barack a liar? Seriously, it'd be a lot of fun.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 17, 2011 5:29 PM:

    Oh come on, people, whatever you think of Obama it should be pretty obvious that he isn't a moron. Of course the Republicans are going to reflexively oppose anything he supports. Of course he knows that. Unfortunately, he does need at least some of them to vote his way on certain issues.

    Like the debt ceiling. Here's the reality of that situation: If Obama roundly denounces the Republicans and demands that the House pass a clean bill by August 2, it is more than likely that they will refuse out of spite.

    So if it's important to raise the debt ceiling, it's kind of important to make sure that doesn't happen. You don't have to be any kind of 11th dimensional Zen master to see that Obama's mere presence has the potential to scuttle any deal.

    I really don't see why Obama has to be either a genius or an imbecile, a superhero or a demon from the lowest pits. Personally I see him as a pretty smart guy and a pretty damn competent politician who is mostly trying to do the right thing in an extremely difficult situation. If that's not good enough for you, go ahead and vote for Mitt Romney.

  • Alli on July 17, 2011 5:35 PM:

    @Brian R(?) you have no idea what you are talking about. Romney is not going to run on 'Obama is going to cut entitlements and I'm not' -- he's already endorsed the Ryan Plan which does exactly that. Why give away his winning stratergery to his opponent. You must be from the DKOS crowd. You scare easily.

  • worcestergirl on July 17, 2011 5:49 PM:

    Jeesh, chi res, I'm 62 years old and I'll call myself anything I want, thank you very much. I like the "girl" moniker because my real identity, "oldmaidprofessor" rather lacks a little zip.

    And please correct me if I am wrong (I don't follow Illinois politics at all), but didn't Republican Mark Kirk win in 2010? How did that go over in those Southie bars? I really worry that Republicans can pick off seats like that, as did Scott Brown in MA. Remember, Massachusetts was the only state for McGovern oh so many years ago, so don't count local state pride for Obama to count for very much outside of Illinois.

  • montag on July 17, 2011 5:56 PM:

    Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Albert Einstein is alleged to have said this is the definition of insanity. So is Obama really just insane? Hard to tell with all the Republicans in DC.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 17, 2011 5:58 PM:

    I'm not about to get complacent, but I can't really see Romney as a serious threat. Regardless of what the polls show now, what happens with the debt ceiling, what state the economy is in come November of 2012, Mitt Romney's biggest liability is going to remain the same--he's a fundamentally ludicrous person.

    Things haven't really heated up yet, and Mitt Romney really isn't that well known to that many Americans, but that's about to change.

    And if Romney does wind up as the Republican nominee, his primary opponents will already have softened him up plenty. They're going to be saying loudly and repeatedly that he's devoid of any core convictions other than the sincere conviction that Mitt Romney ought to be President, and it's going to be hard for him to live it down because it's all true. And then he'd have to go and face Obama in a debate.

  • cwolf on July 17, 2011 6:03 PM:

    Maybe Obama just caught up with the Peter Principle.

  • DAY on July 17, 2011 6:09 PM:

    Folks, chill. The person(s) Obama needs to fear aren't running. They are waiting until 2016.
    Because they aren't stupid.

  • Rick Bohan on July 17, 2011 6:22 PM:

    He's not really just now figuring this out, is he?

  • Celui on July 17, 2011 6:42 PM:

    TR@3:13 is so very spot on. It's no question that Obama has made it possible for the hard-liners on the Republican side to embarrass themselves publicly time after time, and yet he has not taken their bait and lost his focus. I'm waiting for us to realize that Obama is simply building a wealth of political ammunition to bring back into the faces of Republicans in the next election. Let them rant and rant; they can't take yes for an answer, and don't have a fallback that is possible. It appears to me that the politics of demonization and lies will come back to bite them what spoke it! I sure hope!!

  • Sparko on July 17, 2011 6:45 PM:

    Racism is puzzling. One would think we are beyond it, but Murdoch ordered nice clean sheets several years ago, and he hasn't quite run through them yet. Soon, though.

  • FRP on July 17, 2011 6:52 PM:

    Do I hear wedding bells ?
    P G Wodehouse would , and when was he ever wrong ? Aside from from a little dust up with reality called internment . I suppose that was his own fault , though I forgive him .
    worcestergirl M Morris was truly a star running back and one I mourned for his poverty of judgement .
    The sort of insults to the intelligence of the listening people , provided by Lord Romney was just short of unbelievable , tis true so true . So the reckoning of this high handed , low browed performance may surprise you , but not all that many of the prideful others . IMHO
    I am intrigued with the boldness of chi res , courage beyond the call of duty . Courage in the service of ... ?
    Calling Dr Howard , Calling Dr Fine , Calling P G Wodehouse .

  • Brian R. on July 17, 2011 7:25 PM:

    "@Brian R(?) you have no idea what you are talking about. Romney is not going to run on 'Obama is going to cut entitlements and I'm not' -- he's already endorsed the Ryan Plan which does exactly that."

    I wasn't the one who said that. Worcestergirl was.

    I was disagreeing -- like you -- with the idea that Romney was going to run on those themes.

  • alki on July 17, 2011 7:25 PM:

    Come on, you guys. Just because Obama doesn't speak in the more or less gross and bullying language we've become so dismally accustomed to in our politicians, does not mean that this is not a very nice, deft twist of the knife.

    This. Well said.

  • john on July 17, 2011 7:57 PM:

    Just because Obama doesn't speak in the more or less gross and bullying language we've become so dismally accustomed to in our politicians, does not mean that this is not a very nice, deft twist of the knife.

    Amen to that.

    We keep looking for Conan the Barbarian to come storming through the gates like a rhino, decapitating people in a bloody mess.

    But we don't realize that a ninja just traipsed through the room stabbing the bad guys through the hearts without them even realizing he was there.

  • N.Wells on July 17, 2011 8:17 PM:

    In today's news, Obama is appointing Ohio's previous attorney-general Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, instead of Elizabeth Warren. She would have been great and deserves it, and it seems like this has been one of the far too many open appointments that Obama has not done enough about for far too long. However, a) Warren was not going to get through approval, b) she has been serving all this time as a Special Adviser to the Treasury, so I suspect that Obama has not lost much by not having her formally approved, and c) Cordray was pretty good here in Ohio and should be fine. I haven't understood why Obama hasn't raised more fuss about the R's blocking his appointments, but I'm presuming that he has similar workarounds for all the other appointments that the R's have held up.

  • thymezone on July 17, 2011 8:21 PM:

    I can't figure who is crazier. The GOP which opposes and trashes everything Obama does just because they can, or the Democrat left, which opposes everything Obama does just because they can (see the first comment to this thread, for example).

    Nihilists? You have them on the "left", if you can call that a left. Why bitch about them on the right? We need to fix our own house.

  • Robert Waldmann on July 17, 2011 8:57 PM:

    I don't think the President is puzzled at all. I doubt that he would have put Medicare and Social Security on the table if he thought there was any risk the Republicans would even pretend to consider saying yes.

    As it is, the insiders (as in inside the beltway or villagers) have concluded that Obama is very bipartisan and that there is no way to compromise with Republicans and the discussion was so private and brief and vague that ordinary people don't know that Obama was willing to agree with the Republicans do do something they find unacceptable (many haven't even noticed what the Republicans have been trying for decades to do).

    Well played. Not 11 dimenional chess. More like boxing a blind man. But effective.

    I'm pretty sure that Obama has decided to endorse every semi popular Republican idea to leave them with nothing, nothing at all.

  • azportsider on July 17, 2011 9:01 PM:

    "Obama gave them the stage and they all but confessed to the crime of being venal destructive idiots."

    I agree with this, TR. Now, if we only had some sort of functioning news media that'd report it.

  • chi res on July 17, 2011 9:13 PM:

    FRP: Courage in the service of ... ?

    For Duty and Humanity!

  • Michael on July 18, 2011 12:45 AM:

    I don't know how this happened , but it is refreshing to see many rational democrats who are not ALL into denigrating the clever manipulations of the president and screaming bloody murder.I commend the rational thinkers making so much sense, too bad this will only be for a short while....:O

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  • bob h on July 18, 2011 6:39 AM:

    Are Republicans smart enough to know that while crashing the economy might ensure Obama's removal from office, no sane Republican President would want or even be able to do much with a nation stuck in another Great Recession? That absolutist dogma would make it impossible for that President to combat it? No.

  • j on July 18, 2011 8:16 AM:

    Did anyone else see the ridiculous tea bagger congressman from Illinois, name of Joe Walsh I think who made a video calling Obama a liar. He said the US has plenty of money and Obama should stop lying.This man was a serious nut and should be taken out in the next election.

  • Celui on July 18, 2011 9:02 AM:

    bob h on July 18, 2011 6:39 AM: "Are Republicans smart enough to know that while crashing the economy might ensure Obama's removal from office, no sane Republican President would want or even be able to do much with a nation stuck in another Great Recession? That absolutist dogma would make it impossible for that President to combat it? No." Yep--so right! "You broke it, you bought it" is the recipe for utter failure and defeat. Now, the question is: Can the R's conceive of the likely results of their actions in time to recognize that this issue will make it all but impossible for them to govern (in whatever manner 'R Governance' can be construed) after the next election? Tune in next week for the next installment in the thrilling story of: "Off the Cliff" with John, Mitch et al.

  • Bartender on July 18, 2011 10:56 AM:

    The only "puzzle" is why the president keeps insisting on trying to compromise with the republicans only to have them move the goal posts yet again and make new demands. Mr. Obama needs to realize they are nothing more than simple "angry birds" trying to tear our house down, and refuse to play their game any longer.

  • CDW on July 18, 2011 12:28 PM:

    Obama's a slow learner, if indeed he has learned anything yet. I'm not convinced he has.

    P.S So nice to see that captcha is keeping out the spam.

  • Nancy on July 18, 2011 1:30 PM:

    Obama is so right of center as a Democrat, he looks more like Reagan than Clinton. Today's GOP are insane, but their brand of crazy is WORKING. Obama moves toward them, meets their demands and gives up democratic principals at every turn.

    Why should the GOP say "yes", when Obama will give them what they want?

    I like Obama, I will vote for Obama again, but I wish he would stand tall for once and actually call their bluff. I also wish the man would learn how to negotiate. Don't they teach that in Public Policy 101?

  • Mary on July 18, 2011 3:12 PM:

    Elizabeth Warren did not want the job. She was given a choice at the beginning to either set up the bureau or run it as chief and she chose to set it up. Richard Cordray was her top pick for chief. Please read what she had to say about Pres. Obama's unwavering support.

  • N.Wells on July 18, 2011 3:41 PM:

    To Mary, re "Elizabeth Warren did not want the job":

    I don't know for sure, but I heard the opposite. From
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/59263.html

    "Warren herself, who very much wanted to head the agency she conceived and has been building, put out a statement on Sunday supporting Cordray. She followed it up on Monday with an article backing the decision on Huffington Post, a liberal outlet that had crusaded for her nomination. .... It also reflects that the administration apparently convinced Warren, who had been spoiling for a fight over her nomination, that she could never be confirmed in the face of unified Republican opposition and that the battle itself would further damage an agency that, as it is, will miss a July 21st deadline to have a confirmed director in place and thus forgo - for now, at least - some its muscular rule-writing power. 'She is playing extremely well with others right now,' said one close observer of the process who declined to be identified by name because he continues to work with the administration and CFPB."

    Have you got anything more specific?

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