LONDON – Bipartisanship seems to have taken a drubbing in Washington since President Barack Obama got to the White House.
Like most recent American presidents, Obama campaigned on a promise to work with his political opponents for the greater good of the country. Bill Clinton said much the same thing before he was elected, and then spent his first term in a knockdown fight with Newt Gingrich’s Republican majority in Congress, and his second term fighting off impeachment.
George W. Bush also said that he would reach out to those who disagreed with him. He then turned into the most partisan and ideological president of modern times, egged on by his vice-president, Dick Cheney.
Obama already appears to have gone further in the pursuit of bipartisanship than his predecessors. His selection of Republicans for key posts – including retaining Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense – has raised a few eyebrows among his supporters. But, above all, he has tried hard to secure Republican support for his efforts to prevent the economy from disappearing into a deep recessionary hole.