It's unusual when a reporter sympathetic to a politician writes a story that makes his subject look bad. But Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker has now done this . . .(via reader Doug J.)
Contrarian liberal blogger Mickey Kaus sums it up: "The president's decision-making method--at least as described in this piece--seems to consist of mainly checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him."
A $60 billion cut in the stimulus package? "OK." Use the reconciliation process to pass the health care bill? A check mark in the box labeled "yes."
Include medical malpractice reform in the health care bill? The man who as an Illinois legislator often voted "present" writes, "We should explore it." . . .
Lizza's reporting undercuts the stated thesis of his article: that Obama sought to bring bipartisan governance to Washington but was foiled by Republicans' partisan intransigence.
Evidence that Obama ever seriously considered Republican approaches is minimal in the New Yorker article. The alternatives Lizza describes Obama as considering are for even more spending and government control, such as a much bigger stimulus package.
He mentions just in passing that "Obama "had decided to pursue health-care reform" as well as the stimulus package -- a choice that inevitably made bipartisanship harder to achieve.
At one point Lizza does quote Obama writing on a memo, "Have we looked at any of the other GOP recommendations (e.g. Paul Ryan's) to see if they make any sense?" Another president might have looked at Ryan's proposals himself or might even have called him on the phone.
George W. Bush, in contrast, worked with Democrats -- and sometimes even talked with them -- on his education plan, his tax cuts and the Iraq war resolution. He even tried, unsuccessfully, to negotiate with them on Social Security.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Michael Barone in Sunday's Washington Examiner: