Later today after the final Senate vote on the START nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia, President Obama hopes to hold a press conference in which, officials say, he will herald the bipartisan nature of the successes of the lame duck – the anticipated victory in ratifying START, repealing the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, and the tax cut compromise.
To hear Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, tell it it's his side that’s been “shellacked” as of late.
“This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn’t have passed in the new Congress,” Graham told Fox News Radio.
The White House says this was all accomplished by being more bipartisan.
“ I think the President would admit that he spent more time reaching out to Republicans recently than in previous times,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday. “I also happen to think that Republicans understand probably more than they have in any other period also in the President’s tenure that they are soon to inherit a great responsibility for the act of governing, and I think that's kicked in a bit earlier than the formal passing of the gavel in the House.”
Gibbs said the message from the midterm elections “is that people want Washington to put aside the games that it normally plays and get things done. I think that what has been accomplished over the past few weeks demonstrates certainly that that's possible.”
When he returns from Hawaii, the president intends to hold a bipartisan retreat at Camp David and White House sources tell ABC News the president feels there is potential for bipartisan compromise on:
• education reform — soon-to-be-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, after all, chaired the House education committee that helped write the No Child Left Behind bill;
• spending cuts and reducing the deficit, which Republicans talk about wanting to tackle; and
• government reforms like eliminating earmarks and adding transparency — which Tea Party candidates campaigned on.
White House officials also believe the template of the tax compromise – a bill containing provisions each side likes, even if they deplore the ones the other side is offering – may work for job growth, say, with a bill offering infrastructure spending and targeted business tax cuts.
“There is momentum building but we're not sure – we've been here before,” presidential historian Alvin Felzenberg told ABC News. “There was a bit of euphoria when he passed healthcare, there was less with the financial reg bill and then cap and trade. We've had these false starts but there is high expectations for the new year, a new beginning.”
Felzenberg said “the door's open a crack now. and everybody's leaving Washington perhaps with a better sense of the other side than we saw the past two years. That's all to the good…but he (the president) has to make the first move.”
-Jake Tapper and Auzzie Dean