Thursday, September 06, 2012

"We Have The Votes, Fuck Them!"

The Obama administration's approach to restoring civility and bipartisanship to Washington.
With the president taking charge, though, Obama found that he had little history with members of Congress to draw on. His administration's early decision to forego bipartisanship for the sake of speed around the stimulus bill was encapsulated by his then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel: "We have the votes. F--- 'em," he's quoted in the book as saying.

Obama's relationship with Democrats wasn't always much better. Woodward recounts an episode early in his presidency when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were hammering out final details of the stimulus bill.

Obama phoned in to deliver a "high-minded message," he writes. Obama went on so long that Pelosi "reached over and pressed the mute button on her phone," so they could continue to work without the president hearing that they weren't paying attention.

As debt negotiations progressed, Democrats complained of being out of the loop, not knowing where the White House stood on major points. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, is described as having a "growing feeling of incredulity" as negotiations meandered.

"The administration didn't seem to have a strategy. It was unbelievable. There didn't seem to be any core principles," Woodward writes in describing Van Hollen's thinking.

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