Obama Plays 'Gandhian Hardball'

Bipartisanship doesn't work anymore, except as tonal strategy
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2009 12:55 PM CST
In this Feb. 3, 2009 file photo, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, listens as President Barack Obama announces him as his choice for commerce secretary in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington.    (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama got his stimulus passed, but he couldn’t convince any Republicans to vote for it, and that sent the media fretting. Had the president, as one paper put it, “delivered the post-partisan era” he’d promised? “The man had been in office for eight days,” writes Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, “a tight schedule for era-delivering.” Bipartisanship may not even be possible anymore, but Obama knows what he’s doing.

Once, the parties were awkwardly assembled hodge-podges of regional interests, and “ideological incoherence made bipartisanship feasible.” Now, they’re as tight as European parliamentary parties, too disciplined to compromise. But just as non-violent protests sometimes work better when the other side gets violent, Obama realizes that his bipartisan overtures are making Republicans look all the more intractably partisan. “It’s not Rovian hardball he’s playing. More like Gandhian hardball.”