The Magazine

He’s No Pragmatist

Obama doesn’t play well with Republicans.

May 21, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 34 • By FRED BARNES
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Snowe, who is not running for reelection in 2012, is a moderate with a strong preference for bipartisanship. But she came away from sessions at the White House with a less than favorable assessment of Obama. Snowe told Jonathan Karl of ABC News she gives Obama a “close to failing” grade on his willingness to work with Republicans. She hasn’t met with him personally in nearly two years.

On occasions when Republicans initiated legislation that might pass muster with Obama, they’ve generally been ignored. Earlier this year, House Republicans put together the JOBS Act to give small businesses better access to capital. Their bill was designed to find common ground. It included several items from the jobs bill Obama proposed last year and avoided measures that might have  been seen as poison pills by the White House.

Still, Republicans got nowhere—until a section was added to make it easier for technology companies to raise capital. With the tech lobby applying pressure, the White House produced a letter of support. But even then, only one Obama appointee spoke out publicly on the bill, Mary Schapiro, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. And she was strongly opposed. Nonetheless, it passed.

The situation with Obama and Republicans is pretty clear. His idea of compromise is when Republicans collapse and fall in line behind his agenda. He wants to be bipartisan, but only if that means getting his way.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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