Obama's Strategy: Play Nice With Congress
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2009 12:03 PM CDT
Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, right, walks with his former Senate colleague and good friend, Vice President Joe Biden, April 29, 2009.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama believes he has a big advantage when it comes to passing health care reform. Though he ran as an outsider, he’s “quietly but methodically assembled the most Congress-centric administration in modern history,” writes Matt Bai in the New York Times Magazine. Unlike Clinton, who rode in as an outsider and presented his plan as a fully-formed fait accompli, Obama’s team is trying to listen to, and corral, the dueling personalities on the Hill.

“The only nonnegotiable principle here is success. Everything else is negotiable,” says Rahm Emanuel. He, Obama, and Joe Biden, the administration’s most powerful members, all hail from Congress, and they've assembled a staff full of Hill insiders with useful friendships. “I’m a Senate guy,” Biden says. In his long career, he’s seen many presidents leave congressional backers in the lurch. “Not this guy,” he says, gesturing toward the Oval Office.