Chuck Grassley, waiting by the phone

Updated
Chuck Grassley, waiting by the phone
Chuck Grassley, waiting by the phone
Associated Press

Congressional Republicans have, on more than a few occasions, complained about a lack of outreach from President Obama. But of all the GOP lawmakers with concerns, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is arguably the last person who should be whining to the press.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a pivotal deal-maker in Congress, said Tuesday that he has not received a phone call from President Obama in four years.

The lack of communication between the Iowa Republican and the president is an indication that Obama’s new “charm offensive” with Republicans on Capitol Hill has come up short.

Grassley, who struck landmark legislative deals with both former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, said he is surprised there hasn’t been more outreach from the 44th commander in-chief.

The Iowa Republican told The Hill that Obama reached out to him quite a bit in 2009, but has received “scant personal attention” from the White House since.

I can’t speak to why (or whether) the president has avoided calling the senator, but if Grassley genuinely wants to know why the White House doesn’t keep in touch, I might be able to help shed some light on the subject.

Grassley, for example, has said publicly that he considers President Obama “stupid.” This may have given the White House the impression that Grassley isn’t interested in a cooperative relationship with the president.

But even if we put that aside, let’s take a nice stroll down memory lane, and revisit what happened when Obama and his team reached out – with sincerity and regularity – to the Republican senator from Iowa.

Those who followed the debate over health-care reform closely may recall that by the fall of 2009, “no Republican received more TLC from Barack Obama” than Chuck Grassley. The president and his team reached out to him constantly, hoping that he was the kind of senator who would work in good faith towards bipartisan solutions.

The president and his team were mistaken. While Grassley claimed to be serious about bipartisan solutions on health care reform, he was also, at the same time, making fundraising appeals urging donors to send him cash to help him “defeat Obama-care.” Grassley then proceeded to talk up “death panel” garbage and tout Glenn Beck’s book.

By August 2009, Grassley told MSNBC that he was negotiating with the White House on a health care compromise, which Grassley was prepared to vote against, even if it included everything he asked for.

I have a strong hunch that Obama saw all of this and thought to himself, “Maybe there’s no point in reaching out to Chuck Grassley anymore.”

And if the president did reach this conclusion, it would be hard to blame him. Grassley has conducted himself in a ridiculous manner for the last several years, and when the White House made a sincere attempt at outreach, he betrayed them.

So why is it, exactly, that Grassley is whining now?

Chuck Grassley

Chuck Grassley, waiting by the phone

Updated