Turn the Other Cheek, Barack

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Hendrik Hertzberg thinks that Obama’s continued willingness to engage the Republican minority, despite the fact that it stonewalled him on the stimulus bill, is a crafty decision:

Fifty years ago, the civil-rights movement understood that nonviolence can be an effective weapon even if—or especially if—the other side
refuses to follow suit. Obama has a similarly tough-minded understanding of the political uses of bipartisanship, which, even if it fails as a tactic for compromise, can succeed as a tonal strategy: once the other side makes itself appear intransigently, destructively partisan, the game is half won. Obama is learning to throw the ball harder. But it’s not Rovian hardball he’s playing. More like Gandhian hardball.

This makes sense to me. If Obama bends over backward to court Republicans (and, importantly, does so in a highly visible way), the GOP will lose support for refusing to engage, not gain it. And if Obama has the majorities to get his priorities through Congress without Republican support, there’s no harm in taking this approach.

So, essentially, here’s Obama’s task. Get beat up. A lot. Because no one wants to vote for the bullies, the jerks, and the malcontents.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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