Has Obama Given Up on Bipartisanship?

Question: \r\nHow has the story of Barack Obama evolved since the beginning of this \r\nyear?

David Remnick: It’s always useful, \r\njournalistically, to remember the kind of sine curve of defeat and \r\nvictory. I remember just a couple of months ago, we ran a cover that had\r\n four panels and Obama in three of them is walking across water in \r\nradiant light like you know, the great biblical figure. And in the \r\nfourth panel, he falls in the water. This is the nadir of the healthcare\r\n debate. It looked like he was quite possibly was going to lose, there \r\nwas already talk about how horrible November elections were going to be \r\nfor the Democratic party, and then he turns it around. And he won. He \r\ndidn’t win a bipartisan victory, by any means. In fact, the main \r\npoliticking had to be within the Democratic party to put it over. But \r\nall that said, he won an enormous victory and the momentum of the \r\npresidency changed. How long that will last, will it have any bearing on\r\n what happens in November? Well, as those reports always say, we’ll wait\r\n and see.

Question: Has he given up on trying to be \r\nbipartisan?

David Remnick: Even though Obama’s \r\npolitical reflex, his political personality aims toward conciliation, \r\nit’s certainly what made him a political animal as early as law school. \r\nIt’s how he got to be the President of the Law Review, by drawing in \r\nconservatives as well as liberals, it’s how he succeeded. He’s not a \r\nfool. He sees reality. He sees the partisan divisiveness in the \r\nCongress. He wants to win. This is not some kind of pie-eyed idealist. \r\nLook at the health care bill, that bill contracted and was shaped over \r\ntime in ways he may not have wanted, but he wanted to win. He did not \r\nwant to walk out of there a gallant loser. Conciliation is also not a \r\nstrategy that will necessarily work with pretty stubborn international \r\nforces. Conciliation, or charm, is not something that’s going to work \r\nwith Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or any other political force of that like.

There’s\r\n\r\n also a toughness to him. It’s not toughness that obstreperous and \r\nswaggering, but he’s capable of it.

Recorded on April 9, 2010

Obama wants to win. He's "not some kind of pie-eyed idealist."

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