Republicans Walked Into Obama’s Trap

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by Karl Rove,

from The Wall Street Journal,

His goal was to discredit the GOP before 2014. The defunders fell for it.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the chaos in Washington, but at the top of the list is the absence of presidential leadership. When Congress is close to agreement but still divided, the country rightly counts on its chief executive to bridge the gaps, make the compromises, and smooth the way to passage.

Instead, President Obama deliberately withdrew from negotiations over the debt ceiling and government shutdown. According to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday, the White House was concerned his personal involvement would be “a mistake that damaged the president’s ability to advance his agenda.”

Perhaps it was for the best. Mr. Obama’s skill is not in bringing Americans together; it is turning them against one another. This latest crisis over the debt ceiling and shutdown is a case in point. Having voted against an increase in the debt ceiling in 2006 as the junior senator from Illinois, the president now characterizes those opposed to one today as reckless and crazed. Hypocrisy makes for clever politics but bad governing.

Give Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his due. He combined ruthless partisanship with exceptional message discipline.

This all fits into the White House’s desire to use the continuing resolution and debt-ceiling fights to punish the GOP House majority in order to flip the House in the 2014 midterm election. That’s a long shot, but the Obama-Reid-Pelosi cause was helped by a minority of House Republicans who persisted in a failed tactic.

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