Presidential Schmoozing Isn’t Just For Republicans

 

Sen. Joe Manchin lamented on Sunday that President Obama doesn’t schmooze enough.“It’s just hard to say no to a friend,” he told Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union. Steve Benen is unimpressed:

Obama has gone further any modern president in bringing members of the opposing party into his cabinet….incorporating ideas from the opposing party’s agenda into his own policy plans….Obama invited several GOP lawmakers to the White House for a private screening with the stars of the movie “Lincoln.”….How many of the invited Republicans accepted the invitation? None….Obama has hosted casual “get-to-know-you” gatherings; he’s taken Republicans out to dinner on his dime; he’s taken House Speaker Boehner out golfing; and he’s held Super Bowl and March Madness parties at the White House for lawmakers.

In general, I’m on Benen’s side here. I think he probably overstates just how hard Obama has tried to be sociable, but in the end, I don’t think it mattered. It’s been a matter of settled public record for a long time that Republicans were dedicated to forming a united front of obstruction from the day Obama took office, and nothing he did was going to change that.

But in fairness, Manchin says in this interview that he’s talking mostly about his fellow Democrats here. And this is an area where Obama’s style probably has hurt him a bit. It hasn’t hurt him a lot—ideology, self-interest, and political survival will always count for a lot more—but I imagine that Democrats in Congress would be willing to back Obama more strongly if they felt a personal connection with him. Most of them don’t, and this has produced a more fractured party with less enthusiasm for backing difficult policies. Obamacare is probably a good example. Right now, when it’s having so many birthing pains, is precisely when you want Democrats coming to its defense most passionately. That’s a tough sell for obvious reasons, but I imagine that more of them would be stepping up if they felt that they owed it to their party leader. Ditto for other difficult policies, like the U-turn on Syria, the negotiations with Iran, and some of the pseudo-scandals of the past year. Strong relationships wouldn’t have turned night into day on these issues, but I’ll bet it would have helped.

 

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate