Rep. Jim Cooper, a conservative Democrat from Tennessee, told a liberal radio network that the Obama White House encouraged him to pick a fight with Nancy Pelosi on the stimulus bill. According to Glenn Thrush at Politico, Cooper said: "Well, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I actually got some quiet encouragement from the Obama folks for what I'm doing." Thrush notes that Cooper has signed a letter criticizing Pelosi for her handling of the rules on the stimulus. Cooper then teed off on Pelosi and his party's leadership in Congress: "They know its a messy bill and they wanted a clean bill. Now, I got in terrible trouble with our leadership because they don't care what's in the bill, they just want it pass and they want it to be unanimous. They don't mind the partisan fighting cause that's what they are used to. In fact, they're really good at it. And they're a little bit worried about what a post-partisan future might look like. If members actually had to read the bills and figure out whether they are any good or not. We're just told how to vote. We're treated like mushrooms most of the time." The Obama-Pelosi tension is consistent with what I was hearing in the aftermath of the House vote on the stimulus. White House officials were telling reporters that they were surprised by the outcome, in part because of Pelosi's heavy-handed approach to Republicans as she put the package together. The obvious question, then, was why the White House didn't push its own version of a stimulus package? Who's the president here?
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