We’ve seen the dynamic play out enough times that it’s no longer a coincidence – Republicans will propose an idea; President Obama will endorse the GOP idea; and Republicans will announce their opposition to their own proposal. It’s happened on everything from immigration to health care, energy policy to taxes, deficit reduction to public safety.
As Jamelle Bouie noted today, it’s not just Republican policymakers who change their mind about policies they used to support.
Today’s poll from the Washington Post and Capital Insight shows something interesting: When Obama lends his name to proposals on immigration, climate change or the war in Afghanistan, support drops.
Without Obama’s name, 78 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of independents support a path to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration. But when you associate that proposal with the president, support drops to 75 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents, and just 39 percent of Republicans – a 21 point decline. Likewise, without Obama’s name, 65 percent of Democrats, 32 percent of Republicans, and 51 percent of independents support measures to address climate change. With his name attached, Democratic and independent support increases – to 71 percent and 55 percent, respectively – but Republican support dips even further, to 24 percent.
Just so we’re clear, there’s nothing else driving the shifts. Republicans endorse an idea, then they learn Obama agrees with them, then they reject the idea they’d just endorsed.
With this sentiment prevailing in Congress and with rank-and-file GOP voters, one starts to understand how and why compromise is quite literally impossible – if Obama expresses support for his own proposals, Republicans say no, and if Obama expresses support for GOP proposals, Republicans still say no.
It creates an environment in which the two sides can’t even negotiate, because one side won’t take “yes” for an answer.
Is the moral of the story that the president should simply say nothing, and make his positions on issues a national mystery?