Friday, March 8, 2013

Obama Backs Up

After a failed sequester effort, President Obama took a breath and has switched to a charm offensive launched by hosting a dinner with a group of senators he has had little contact with for four years. Obama did not scrimp on the food. The Jefferson Hotel is a Relais and Chateaux.

It’s difficult to judge either the sincerity of the effort or its likely success. Obama had spent the preceding two weeks savaging Republicans for, in his view, irresponsibility causing a host of calamities to the U.S. government and the economy. The dinner was clearly a result of the underwhelming reviews his sequester roadshow collected, accompanied by downward movement in his approval polls.
But, it remains difficult to see the potential for a higher level of comity and progress on a grand bargain for entitlement reform since this new approach appears mostly a tactical adjustment. The big strategy – the permanent campaign – aimed at 2014 and recapturing the House, is still in place and being run off-site by Messrs. Axelrod, Plouffe, Messina et al.

The White House strategy was mostly clearly articulated by Ryan Lizza, the liberal New Yorker columnist, who points out that Obama’s team believes only with government unified by one party’s control, like Obama’s first two years, is it likely to pass his legislation agenda? Governing and especially moving legislation in a divided government is inversely related to campaigning, and this White House looks more oriented to Chicago than D.C.

See blogs:
Why the presidents sequester strategy failed to lift off
Risk of permanent campaign
Are the 2014 congressional elections being decided this week?

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