Wisdom From President Obama On “Compromising”

This video of President Obama talking to the college students in Massachusetts back in March is showing up all over the internet. There is one passage that I particularly liked that will hopefully help to educate some of the people who bristle at every compromise with Republicans…(emphasis mine)

“And so, one of the challenges of this generation is, I think, to understand that the nature of our democracy and the nature of our politics is to marry principle to a political process. That means you don’t get a 100% of what you want. You don’t get it if you are the majority; you don’t get it if you are in the minority.And you can be an honorable in politics understanding that you are not going to get 100% of what you want.

“And that’s been our history. You think about our greatest presidents — Abraham Lincoln, here is a guy who didn’t believe in slavery, but his first priority was keeping the Union. I’ve got the Emancipation Proclamation hanging up in my office, and if you read through, it turns out that most of the document is: those states and areas where the Emancipation doesn’t apply because those folks were allies with the Union so they can keep their slaves. Think about that. That’s the Emancipation Proclamation.

“So, here you’ve got a war time president who is making a compromise around probably the greatest moral issue the country ever faced because he understood that, ‘Right now my job is to win the war and to maintain the Union.

The Tea Party on the right and the Firebaggers on the left have both staked out intransigent positions. In my many years of obsessing over politics, I’ve never seen anything like it.

It’s astounding that this unprecedented polarization has effectively changed the way our government functions. It’s been perpetuated primarily from the Republican side of the aisle where the President has been thwarted at every turn. Watch our very wise President in explaining this to a politically mixed group of college students, it once again proves that we elected the right man for the job and need to reelect him in 2012.

In a press conference last week, President Obama referred to this craziness and how it puzzles him that Republicans can oppose ideas they once supported, just because he now supports them. Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly picked up on that line and wrote a great post about it. Here are some of Steve’s thoughts on this puzzling situation…

It is, to be sure, quite a pattern. For two-and-a-half years, Obama has run into congressional Republicans who not only refuse to take “yes” for an answer, but routinely oppose their own ideas when the president is willing to accept them.

This seems especially relevant in the context of the current debt-reduction talks. At a certain level, it’s almost comical — here we have a Democratic president agreeing with a conservative Republican House Speaker on a massive deal that would lower the debt by over $4 trillion over the next decade. It would tilt heavily in the GOP’s direction, and address the problem Republicans pretend to care about most. Obama is even willing to consider significant entitlement “reforms,” which should be music to the ears of the right.

And yet, in the latest example that “puzzles” the president, Republicans aren’t interested.

I think the President has adapted to this strategy and is exploiting the Republican intransigence by making offers that help to reveal this stupidity and also help him politically by making him seem like the reasonable one. The debt ceiling debate is a perfect example how he has adapted. The President’s position from the beginning has been to get a clean raising of the debt ceiling and after his masterful negotiating, it looks like that is exactly what he is going to get.  Go back and watch Lawrence O’Donnell’s great rant on this from last week, he nails it to the wall.

The truly amazing thing is that President Obama has accomplished a ton in this atmosphere, can you imagine how much more he could have accomplished if the congress had just operated the way it has for the last….well, how about since our country’s founding.


13 thoughts on “Wisdom From President Obama On “Compromising”

  1. Rachel Maddow begins her program with interviews of Firebaggers protesting in Chicago saying IF President Obama makes any COMPROMISE with Republicans, that these folks who claim to have worked hard, donated money to Obama in 2008 WILL SIT ON THEIR HANDS and refuse to help re-elect him. Way to go, Rachel! Trying to be a hero to Firebaggers?

    I see Lawrence O’Donnell played the video of President Obama meeting with students that was linked above. Wonder if MSNBC got the link here???

  2. It was a little weird, I saw it. Frank Rich used almost my exact words…used intransigence and for a minute I thought they read my post. Bizarre. They could have been one of the many people who visit every day.

  3. So what do these guys want? To go on default on our loans? Come on now that is just lame for Maddow and I have to wonder if she’s a complete and utter fraud.

  4. Ed Schultz is continuing on the “Chicken Little” line that President Obama will sell out progressives. Ed’s worthless cell phone poll asks, “Do you think President Obama should CAVE on tax increases?” Got so that about the only ones I watch with regularity anymore on MSNBC are Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell, two who have actually worked in government. Although Rev. Sharpton is doing a great job filling in for the absent Cenk Uygur lately. Never watch Scarborough anymore and tired of hearing Pat Buchanan’s “two cents” all day long. Dylan Ratigan gave Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) a pulpit today to preach his 9 TRILLION DOLLAR plan to balance the budget in 10 years!

    The “cap and balanced budget” amendment is absurd. But the REICH likes to make Americans, most of whom have little knowledge of economics nor even know who John Maynard Keynes was or anything about his theories. Keep hearing comparisons to government and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow balancing their checkbook. Apples and oranges as persons cannot print money nor sell Bonds like governments can do. If we had had this “amendment” years ago, FDR could never have turned around our nation during the Great Depression (could have gone the fascist road then!). Americans would have had to allow Germany and Japan to rule the world as we could never have gone into WWII with our fiscal hands tied. .

  5. Contrary to Rachel Maddow constantly complaining that President doesn’t do enough for the GLBT community (when he has done more than ANY president in history), today White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reported the President will endorse the repeal of DOMA. This — the White House endorsing legislation that has yet to pass either house of Congress — is extremely rare, and marks the urgency with which the President wants to see DOMA erased forever.


    29 Senators now support repeal, which is more than twice the number of Senators who voted for DOMA in 1996 under Clinton (who signed it). And now, the GLBT community has President Obama’s seal of approval.

  6. Held my nose and watched Dylan Ratigan today where he loudly criticized President Obama for supporting “free trade” while also promoting his posting at Huffington Post.


    Dylan thinks Obama has sold us out, breaking his 2008 campaign promises then snidely says Obama “needs” donations from big business for the 2012 election. Dylan has been doing a lot of Ron Paul promotions of late, so I figure he is in the Paul camp. He also praised Ross Perot for opposing “free trade” in 1992.

  7. Rachel Maddow is saying what MSNBC is telling her to say. She may have been part of the progressive movement at one point in time but now… I think she’s doing what she’s being paid to do and is ringing everyone false about her claim that the switch of Comcast and MSNBC means nothing.

  8. Obama’s raised a ton of money. He’s not that desperate for donations yet. Now I could see a politician desperately searching for donators possible lying but the motive that Ratigan is claiming in false.

  9. Ed Schultz featured Jane Hamsher tonight on MSNBC as representative of progressive bloggers. She said she had visited 40 offices of congresspersons today and fears what President Obama is about to do is “unconscionable”. Hamsher noted her blog has flared up with upset “liberals” and suggested that some may “stay at home” from the polls next year. She did take offense to Schultz saying what she was doing from the left was comparable to what the far right is doing!!! Ed backed off a bit then.

  10. how did she try to refute it? I’m just curious because it seems that Hamsher is really no different then the right.

  11. whoew so thats what Jane Hamsher looks like! With looks like that no wonder why she tries to stay in the background! Either way I’m skeptical about this persons motives. She sounds like she’s trying to play the spin game and isn’t very good at politics in general either.

  12. I have lived under 13 presidents since my birth in FDR’s second administration. I have never seen such hate as I have seen directed towards this president (was in elementary school during Truman’s years and do remember hearing a lot about his troubles with a Republican Congress and General Douglas MacArthur).

    I think Houstonian Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee was possibly correct when she charged that Obama was being opposed on everything in part because he is black. Now, as a result of her speech on the floor of the House, she and Obama have had “lynching” cartoons faxed to their offices.


    I have wondered if Obama has been going overboard playing nice with the Republicans because he is aware of the racism rampant in the “Party of Lincoln” and treading maybe too lightly so as not to appear to be the stereotypical “ANGRY black man”. This could be the reason for Rep. Cantor telling what may have been a LIE about Obama’s “angry” composure in their White House meeting last week, alleging that the President “stormed out”. As if Barack Obama can’t express normal human emotions. Of course the racists don’t like to accept that blacks are truly “human” after all.

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