When Obama Learned Republicans Hate America

Obama HopeBy that point it was pretty apparent by his actions that it was already his [Mitch McConnell] number one goal. He validated what I think most of this town knew. When I came into office, my working assumption was that because we were in crisis, and the crisis had begun on the Republicans’ watch, that there would be a window in which they would feel obliged to cooperate on a common effort to dig us out of this massive hole. Probably the moment in which I realized that the Republican leadership intended to take a different tack was actually as we were shaping the stimulus bill, and I vividly remember having prepared a basic proposal that had a variety of components. We had tax cuts; we had funding for the states so that teachers wouldn’t be laid off and firefighters and so forth; we had an infrastructure component. We felt, I think, that as an opening proposal, it was ambitious but needed and that we would begin negotiations with the Republicans and they would show us things that they thought also needed to happen. On the drive up to Capitol Hill to meet with the House Republican Caucus, John Boehner released a press statement saying that they were opposed to the stimulus. At that point we didn’t even actually have a stimulus bill drawn up, and we hadn’t meant to talk about it. And I think we realized at that point what proved to be the case in that first year and that second year was a calculation based on what turned out to be pretty smart politics but really bad for the country: If they cooperated with me, then that would validate our efforts. If they were able to maintain uniform opposition to whatever I proposed, that would send a signal to the public of gridlock, dysfunction, and that would help them win seats in the midterms. It was that second strategy that they pursued with great discipline. It established the dynamic for not just my presidency but for a much sharper party-line approach to managing both the House and the Senate that I think is going to have consequences for years to come.

—Barack Obama
Interview with Jonathan Chait

3 thoughts on “When Obama Learned Republicans Hate America

    • Check out the full interview. I don’t agree with everything Obama says in it, but in terms of how fierce the obstructionism was, it’s pretty eye-opening. Essentially, you had Repubs frankly admitting that they had nothing to gain from negotiating with someone their constituency thought was the Antichrist. What he leaves unsaid there is why those voters felt that way. Surely because the same Repubs were shouting how Obama was the Antichrist!

    • Yeah. Although the whole “party before nation” really bugs me because of the hypocrisy of it. Republicans present themselves as the patriotic party. But they aren’t. They are the narcissistic party: they hate the nation and its people; they only love themselves.

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