Republicans take a swing at Obama

The latest message from the House GOP: "What happened to bipartisanship?"

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published February 6, 2009 5:50PM (EST)

Thursday night, it appeared Barack Obama finally had enough. During a speech to House Democrats, Obama admonished Republicans for their opposition to the stimulus bill, saying at one point, "[D]on't come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis."

The GOP wasn't too fond of Obama's criticism. The Plum Line's Greg Sargent reports that House Republicans sent blast-emails to journalists asking, "What happened to bipartisanship?" Included were links to articles suggesting that Obama's speech represented his desertion of his  commitment to bipartisanship.

This marks a significant change in GOP strategy. Until now, they'd largely blamed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic congressional leaders for the failings they perceive in the stimulus bill. Taking on Obama directly is a bold shift, considering the president's high approval rating and the country's continually worsening financial crisis.

But, the GOP's release is brazen for another reason as well. It's as if they think the public hasn't been paying any attention to the stimulus debate. Obama has gone out of his way to accommodate Republicans, listening to their economic ideas, lauding the party's leaders, plying them with cookies and cocktails. And what did it get him? Not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus bill. The public noticed, too -- in a recent CBS News poll, 81 percent of respondents said they think Obama is trying to work with House Republicans on the stimulus, and 49 percent said they think House Democrats are trying to be bipartisan as well. Only 41 percent said the same thing about the GOP members.

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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