The Plank

How Authentic Are Obama’s Bipartisan Overtures?

In a new piece, TNR senior editor Michael Crowley questions how long the post-partisan sentiments in DC will really last:

Obama's recent bipartisan charm offensive--dinner with columnists like Bill
Kristol, toasting John McCain at a fancy dinner--may be striking, and a little
titillating in its audacity. But it's actually nothing new. Within days of his
inauguration in 2001, George W. Bush launched a similar offensive of his own.
Although the new president had emerged from a bitterly fought Florida recount battle, with some Democrats
doubting his very legitimacy, he quickly reached across the aisle and pledged
to work with the opposition. In his first days, Bush invited dozens of
Democratic congressmen and senators to the White House, including that bane of
conservatives, Ted Kennedy, whom he buttered up like a baked potato. Kennedy
later told reporters that, while he and Bush had some specific disagreements,
"I can't emphasize enough the other areas where the President was reaching
out." An aide to then-House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said of the
president to Time: "You can't help
but like him." Bush even held an early high-profile meeting with his former
mortal foe, John McCain. Sound familiar?

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