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POLITICS

Obama hopes GOP gets 'liberated' after election

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

Rolling Stone's interview with President Obama, which took place over an hour on Easter Sunday, was about what you would expect from a liberal magazine. The opening of the article touts Obama's "remarkable record of accomplishments" and recounts how reporter Jann Wenner and executive editor Eric Bates met him in the Oval Office and brough him a gift. The interview featured such hard-hitting questions as, "Is there any way to break through that obstructionism by Republicans?" And, referring to his singing Al Green at the Apollo Theater, "Did you know you were going to nail it?" Charlie already noted the parts of the interview in which Obama describes where he gets his news. ("I think Jon Stewart's brilliant," he said.) But I thought it was worth taking a moment to discuss the tendentious way in which he describes the Republican Party. Essentially, he divides it up between the decent ones who are really concerned with the country and the big bad conservatives.

"First of all, I think it's important to distinguish between Republican politicians and people around the country who consider themselves Republicans," Obama said. "I don't think there's been a huge change in the country. If you talk to a lot of Republicans, they'd like to see us balance the budget, but in a balanced way. A lot of them are concerned about jobs and economic growth and favor market-based solutions, but they don't think we should be getting rid of every regulation on the books. There are a lot of Republican voters out there who are frustrated with Wall Street and think that they acted irresponsibly and should be held to account, so they don't want to roll back regulations on Wall Street."

Putting aside his straw man framing about getting rid of "every regulation on the books," by the way he puts it, you'd think that there's some huge number of Republicans who support him. But in reality, his approval rating among Republicans is just 11 percent, according to Gallup.

"Frankly, I know that there are good, decent Republicans on Capitol Hill who, in a different environment, would welcome the capacity to work with me," Obama said. "But right now, in an atmosphere in which folks like Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist are defining what it means to be a true conservative, they are lying low. My hope is that after this next election, they'll feel a little more liberated to go out and say, 'Let's redirect the Republican Party back to those traditions in which a Dwight Eisenhower can build an interstate highway system.'"

So basically, there's a category of "decent" Republicans who believe in a large role for the federal government, but those of us who believe in a smaller government are somehow indecent, and are holding the good guys hostage.

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