Well, it was a nice thought, while it lasted.
President Obama took office espousing what seemed like a genuine intention to work with Congress at solving the nation's problems. It didn't quite work out that way, and the president has been accused of failing to deliver on that promise. That's more than a little unfair, since Congress has been determined to deny Obama almost any legislative success, and there are occasions when it appears that the motivation is not to stop a particular policy, but to deprive Obama of a victory of any kind. That attitude may be partly at play with the demands for a special prosecutor to determine who in the administration might have leaked details about national security operations to the New York Times. Is there truly a national security breach worthy of a taxpayer-funded investigation? Or are Republicans just mad that the Obama administration has succeeded in eliminating yet another al Qaeda second-in-command?
Obama, at least, has given up trying to make nice with Congress. Even when the president had a majority-Democratic House and Senate, he was thwarted, since Republicans and conservative Democrats filibustered everything from healthcare bills to nominations in the Senate. But now that the House is run by the GOP, Obama can't realistically expect to get anything through. And—good for the Obama campaign, but sad for democracy—that's probably the president's strongest argument going into the November elections.
The campaign has a new ad coming out, called "Jobs," which takes Congress to task for failing to lower unemployment—a charge the GOP has launched against the president. Says the ad: "We're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months, but…we're still not creating them as fast as we want."
Congress, the ad says, "refuses to act."
It's true. But it's also true—as Mitt Romney reminds us even as he's blaming the president for sluggish job growth—that it's the private sector that creates jobs, especially when budget cuts are leading states and localities to lay off teachers and other public sector workers.
The president has never had a fully cooperative relationship with Congress, and that's too bad. It's more unfortunate that he has to go after Congress to get re-elected. But at least the artifice is gone.