Regarding President Obama‘s lengthy presser on raising the debt ceiling yesterday, the Washington Post‘s liberal columnist Dana Milbank says it was probably more so an attempt to “bait Republicans” than anything else.
Arguably, Obama’s no-more-Mr.-Nice-Guy approach is good politics. His first-term experience made clear that he gained nothing from Republicans when he took a passive approach. When it comes to getting things done in Washington, there’s no substitute for forceful presidential leadership. Teddy Roosevelt, whose oil-on-canvas likeness gazed at Obama from an East Room wall, probably would have approved.
Yet the performance was also a reminder of why Obama isn’t noted for his interpersonal warmth. …
[U]ntil recent years, sharp disagreements were smoothed by personal ties. On Monday, by contrast, Obama showed unrelenting hostility toward the opposition, accompanying his remarks with dismissive shrugs and skeptical frowns. …
Given the tendency by conservative media “to demonize me,” Obama said, socializing with the president might lead to “a challenge from somebody in a primary.” The only way to change lawmakers’ behavior, he said, is for voters to “reject” the partisans who don’t compromise. “And that’ll be true whether I’m the life of the party or a stick in the mud,” he said.
From the affable president, this must pass for friendly advice.