The Other Reason GOP Won’t Work With Obama

Back when congressional Republicans actually made a deal with the president, he got the credit.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama (Pool/Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama (Pool/Getty Images)

(The Root) — With so many pundits declaring that President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda is dead on arrival, you could be forgiven if you mistook the last few days for the first week of May … 2009.

Back then, there was already angst that in Obama’s first first 100 days, unemployment briefly spiked to 10 percent and the stock market tumbled into the 6,000s, and Republicans were complaining about the president’s “apology tour” through Europe, his handshake with now deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at the Summit of the Americas and the enormity of the stimulus that economists now say was too small.

Oh, and let’s not forget about those Somali pirates.

Fast-forward to 2013: The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd is putting the onus on Obama for a “dunderheaded Congress” that won’t “behave”; the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger complains that in Syria, Obama is guilty of “presidential followership“; and the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has argued, “One hundred days into his second term, Obama has already lost control of the agenda,” since he appears to have failed to single-handedly overcome a Republican filibuster of gun control legislation.

Never mind that gun control wasn’t on the president’s legislative agenda until December’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn. — and that he has yet to foreclose any of his options in Syria.

And never mind that at this point in Obama’s first term, hardly anyone outside of Massachusetts had ever heard of Romneycare, and almost no one really believed deep down that we’d ever find and kill Osama bin Laden.

But from day 101 on, many of the goals of the Obama administration eventually came to pass.

Yes, he’s had some notable setbacks on Capitol Hill in his second first 100 days, but as Obama himself said in his Wednesday press briefing, rumors of his demise are probably exaggerated.

Somehow, in between filibusters and rummaging around in the White House attic for his original long-form birth certificate, in his first term the president managed to bring the Iraq War to a dignified conclusion; chip away at unemployment — that’s still far too high, even at 7.5 percent; and, with the Federal Reserve’s help, nurse the Dow Jones industrial average into the respectable 14,000s.

It’s fair to point out his flip-flops on gay marriage and Gitmo (landing both times, in my opinion, on the right position); and if, three years from now, there’s no mortgage relief, we’re still in Afghanistan and the labor force participation rate sits at 63.3 percent, then yes, Obama takes his share of the blame.