"If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it."
So said Barack Obama in an interview just published by The New Republic:
FRANKLIN FOER, EDITOR NEW REPUBLIC: Are there any forces for reform within the Republican Party, people you've been able to establish some sort of working relationship with?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, look, I've always believed that there are a bunch of Republicans of goodwill who would rather get something done than suffer through the sort of nasty atmosphere that prevails in Washington right now. It's not a fun time to be a member of Congress.
And I think if you talk privately to Democrats and Republicans, particularly those who have been around for a while, they long for the days when they could socialize and introduce bipartisan legislation and feel productive. So I don't think the issue is whether or not there are people of goodwill in either party that want to get something done. I think what we really have to do is change some of the incentive structures so that people feel liberated to pursue some common ground.
One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it.
It's not a fun time to be a member of Congress.
I think John Boehner genuinely wanted to get a deal done, but it was hard to do in part because his caucus is more conservative probably than most Republican leaders are, and partly because he is vulnerable to attack for compromising Republican principles and working with Obama.
The same dynamic happens on the Democratic side. I think the difference is just that the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself—and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this—are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.
Really? "Left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word?"
Do the folks at MSNBC want Obama to compromise with Republicans? Or the people at the New York Times?
How about CBS News where its political director recently advocated Obama destroy the Republican Party in his second term.
No, there's no push for compromise from the liberal media.
As for Reid and Pelosi, they've done everything but try to work with Republicans since they took over both chambers of Congress in 2007.
In fact, their first budget attained not one single Republican vote in the Senate or the House. Ditto 2009's stimulus bill and 2010's healthcare reform.
The same is true for Obama himself who days after his first inauguration told Republican leaders interested in assisting in the crafting of stimulus legislation, "I won."
It's truly laughable that a Democratic President of the United States would be blaming members of the media for his inability to reach across the aisle and convince members of the opposition to work with him.
Ronald Reagan had a far more hostile media and seemed capable of doing it. Ditto George W. Bush during his first term.
But Obama can't, and that's Fox News and Limbaugh's fault?
No, compromise with Republicans has been a dirty word to the left and their media minions at least since the Democrats took over Congress in 2007.
Suggesting otherwise is absurd.