THE BLOG
04/10/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Bipartisanship

Regardless of the obvious, Pres. Obama is going to re-engage by inviting Republicans to come into the room with their ideas on health care, with Kathleen Sebelius offering the following assessment, via HuffPost's Sam Stein:

Sebelius said that the president views the bipartisan meeting as a needed pivot to move reform forward. Asked if he will expedite the legislative process following his various sit-downs with congressional Republicans, she replied: "I certainly think so. I think he sees this as a step to actually accelerating the process forward. He wants to move forward. He wants a bill at his desk and he sees this as kind of closing the loop and let's go." ...

Once again, Obama's people are assuming Republicans want to play along. That Pres. Obama has the clout or they care enough about his charm to join in. It's certainly not his power to punish that bothers them, because he won't wield it. Reconciliation is something Obama won't consider.

Democrats didn't have to end up here. The solution was always a short list of health care specifics like portability, importation of drugs, anti-trust elements, as well as pre-existing condition exemptions as a stand alone beginning for health care.

But because of the lack of Democratic leadership, which includes a lack of will to use reconciliation, but also the craftiness to pull together a bill that had a simple way forward, Republicans are in a tremendous position. It's a political gift if they're smart enough to accept it, though there's no indication they're willing to be opportunistic if it's seen to benefit Obama. Though if you listened to "Morning Joe" on Monday, an alternate universe if ever there was one, Mr. Scarborough posited that Republicans were never offered a way into the debate, which is absolutely untrue.

Someone needs to keep people like Peggy Noonan and Steve Forbes away from Joe, because he starts saying things when the Establishment folk come around that make him sound like he's been wound.

This latest bipartisanship surge from the Obama crew is vintage David Plouffe, getting everyone in the room so that blame or credit is shared, with a new narrative able to be crafted afterward. But also showing his candidate in the light that got him elected, bipartisan Obama, the guy with no ideology. Not that has helped him so far, because leadership by its very nature requires a point of view and an ideological north so you have some place to begin, not to mention a passionate core people judge worth trusting, as they did during the election season. That is so way back when.

Though some still just do not understand or won't accept the basic sincerity of Obama's true political nature, which is always to craft a deal between two sides, no compass offered by the boss. Only one reason Republicans who say Pres. Obama hasn't been bipartisan should lose their pundit license.

Whereas deal making is always part of the political process, leadership is the jump, starting with the reality that Democratic policy ideas on health care are better, because that's a simple fact, except when Democrats don't make it simple, as they did with the health care bill that was loaded with everything but competition. The trick of the craft in the end to find Democratic ideals Republicans will buy. If they won't, then pushing them through in a marketable way that voters can understand is actually giving them something better than what they've got. However, this requires passion on policy so voters can see it's something worth accepting, instead of acquiescence for the sake of something hobbled together.

And as much as bipartisanship may save health care and give Obama his "win," it also straps him into a kumbaya position, as you can't offer a hand then get rough when Republicans won't take it. Though that's not a worry for Republicans who have never feared Obama's leadership.

Besides, it's not like the Republican base is up for it, with any nod to health care or the Democrats giving more ammunition to Tea Party candidates, who are already pressing Republicans very hard.

Taylor Marsh is a political analyst out of Washington, D.C.