Around 2 a.m. on Election Night, President Obama delivered a stirring victory speech in Chicago, and one of the very first things he did after leaving the stage was call House Democratic leaders Steve Israel and Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because Obama wanted to stress his interest in the 2014 midterms.
It wasn't a fleeting moment. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the president is heavily focused on taking a direct, hands-on role in helping elect a Democratic House majority in 2014. The article noted, "This approach marks a significant shift in the way Obama has worked with a divided Congress. He has compromised and badgered, but rarely -- and never so early -- campaigned to change its composition."
Putting aside the electoral conditions -- Steve Kornacki makes a persuasive case that the numbers probably aren't there for Democrats -- Obama's ambitions are understandable. The clock is ticking on his presidency, and meaningful progress on his top priorities is extremely difficult so long as radicalized congressional Republicans dominate the House of Representatives.
It's difficult, in other words, to blame Obama for focusing his attention on the last election cycle of his presidency. Then again, some Republicans don't find it difficult at all.
Washington continues careening from crisis to crisis because President Obama is too focused on restoring Democratic control of the House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. [...]McConnell said Obama and Democrats have "expended enormous amounts of energy to advance that goal – rebooting his political organization, provoking manufactured crises with Congress, engineering show votes in the Senate, and traveling around the country to campaign relentlessly against his opponents. That's why the Sequester went into effect in its current form. That's why Washington continues to careen needlessly from crisis to crisis. And that's why we find ourselves in a situation where more than 1,400 days have passed since Senate Democrats last passed a budget. What a sad state of affairs for our country, and for the notion of governance in general."
At almost the exact same moment this morning, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) complained to reporters, "America believes the election is over, that the roadshow president should stop and we should start an agenda that puts people back to work. That's the difference and the frustration that the House has with the White House."
That sound you hear are Irony-O-Meters everywhere spontaneously combusting.
Look, I can appreciate why Republicans aren't happy about Obama wanting to defeat them in congressional elections. Their futures would be more secure if a relatively popular president weren't focusing some of his energies on electoral considerations.
But hearing McConnell and McCarthy whine about this to the media this morning may be one of the single most hilarious things I've ever heard.
Remember learning about the meeting Republican leaders held on Inauguration Day 2009 -- the one in which the party committed "unyielding opposition" to everything Obama sought? McCarthy, the guy who now thinks "the election is over," helped lead the meeting.
McConnell, meanwhile, spent the president's first term saying that defeating Obama, not helping Americans, was his top "priority," and deliberately refusing to consider bipartisan proposals, even ones that he liked and approved of, in order to advance his larger partisan cause.
In other words, for four years, GOP leaders like McConnell and McCarthy have run a scorched-earth campaign against the Obama presidency, refusing to compromise, refusing to accept concessions, refusing at times to even support their own proposals, all in the hopes of tearing the president down. It's against this backdrop that Obama has concluded helping elect a Democratic Congress is worth his time.
And now the same folks who've tried to destroy the president are outraged that he wants to help replace them? Please.