During his MTV town hall today, President Obama reframed by bi-partisanship as a patriotic act. Obama said, “I’m a proud Democrat, I’m a prouder American, and I think all of us believe regardless of our party affiliations that this is a critical time, where we’ve gotta solve big problems.” If bi-partisanship is patriotic, then the GOP obstruction must be un-American.
Here is the video from MTV:
Just to make sure that everybody knew that this wasn’t a stacked house in favor of Obama, the first question came from a Republican contended that the GOP’s good ideas on healthcare were ignored. She asked Obama, “How are you going to improve the dialogue among the two parties?”
Obama answered, “When I ran it was based on the notion that Washington was broken. We were having arguments that had more to do with who would win an election than how we were going to solve the country’s problems, and I continue to believe that that is holding us back, so on a whole range of issues my hope was that we could come together, Democrats and Republicans, to find practical common sense solutions to healthcare, to education, to energy issues, because although I’m a proud Democrat, I’m a prouder American, and I think all of us believe regardless of our party affiliations that this is a critical time, where we’ve gotta solve big problems.”
On healthcare Obama said, “Now I tell you that with respect to healthcare, we actually spent months trying to obtain cooperation from Republicans to see if we could negotiate a common sense solution. This is not by the way, something that I am just making up. I think the record will show that we had repeated meetings hopeful that they would meet us half way in terms of shaping legislation…and we just couldn’t get there. Partly, and I’ll be honest with you, part of it had to do with the fact that some folks made a decision that politically it would be useful for me to suffer this political defeat in terms of running against me the next time out, and some of them were pretty explicit in saying it. Now, that’s all past history.”
Notice how Obama made several references to his own desire for common sense solutions. This was a direct rebuttal to the Sarah Palin’s notion of common sense conservatism. Obama is not going to let the GOP pretend that they are the uncontested option for common sense solutions. It is not an accident that Obama referred to his desire for common sense solutions to important issues. By reframing this term, Obama has made another move towards forcing the GOP to define and defend their extreme ideology, which most Americans don’t favor, as common sense.
Secondly, Obama managed to redefine patriotism in one sentence. By stressing the he places America ahead of the Democratic Party, he redefined bipartisanship as patriotic. If this is the case that the Republican strategy of partisan obstruction is not only un-American, it is unpatriotic. Obama defined himself as putting America first. It was a subtle, yet masterful move in the ongoing battle for positions in the American political spectrum.
I think this was only a preview of what we are going to see out of Obama if Republicans take control of the House. With a Republican majority in one body of Congress, Obama will finally have the political foil that he has so badly needed since he got to the White House. A Republican opposition will allow Obama to define himself, and the likely extreme rightward tilt of the House will allow Obama to claim the moderate middle. What we saw today is that this President is not afraid to offer his own definition of patriotism, and that he is gearing up for the potential challenge of an adversarial House.