President Barack Obama on Friday told a room full of donors that he believed the Republican Party would eventually become more moderate, but only after it suffered defeat in the 2012 election.
"I believe that if we're successful in this election, when we're successful in this election, that the fever may break, because there's a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that," Obama said at an event held at the Bachelor Farmer restaurant in Minneapolis, which is owned by the sons of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D).
"My hope, my expectation, is that after the election, now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn't make much sense because I'm not running again, that we can start getting some cooperation again."
Speaking hours after he addressed the woeful May jobs report, which was released early Friday, Obama's remarks are an admission of sorts that even he believes no legislative activity will occur in the near future on the economic recovery front. Among the other legislative items he said would come after he won a second term were a balanced deficit reduction plan, immigration reform and a highway bill.
This is certainly a show of political optimism, not least because it's premised on the assumption that Obama will win. It also seems like a bit of wishful thinking that voices of political compromise will begin asserting themselves within the GOP during his second term.
Obama, after all, came into office as popular a president as any in modern memory. Yet despite that popularity, GOP leadership began plotting how to submarine his presidency the night of his inauguration. Shortly after the 2010 midterm elections, meanwhile, Obama and his advisers calculated that making achievements (even modest ones) on deficit reduction would afford them the political capital needed to push other priorities in 2011. But Republicans didn't cooperate, and that never panned out.
Of course, Obama can't just tell donors that the country is in for four more years of bitter warfare if he wins. There needs to be a positive vision. And the idea that a post-partisan landscape is achievable is -- for the time being -- that vision.
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