Why Barack Obama is still better off than he was two weeks ago.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Feb. 6 2009 9:53 AM

So You Had a Bad Day

Why Barack Obama is still better off than he was two weeks ago.

(Continued from Page 1)

The Obama coalition is emerging. In the long run, that may be the most important lesson of the past week: Slowly but surely, Obama might actually succeed in building the post-partisan working majority he promised, notwithstanding the skepticism and reluctance of some on both sides of the aisle.

Journalists were quick to invoke the "rule of three" about nominees' tax problems but overlooked a remarkable rule of three that few saw coming: With Judd Gregg's appointment at Commerce, Obama's Cabinet now includes three members of the opposing party (Gregg, Ray LaHood, and Robert Gates)—which may well set the record. Nowadays, any president would be grateful for three strong defenders from the other party. Not only will Obama be well-served by hearing a broad range of views, but the new members of his team may help him persuade some of their former colleagues to resist the easy no and consider joining a coalition of the willing.

In fact, the economic recovery debate has already jump-started the makings of a promising post-partisan caucus in the Senate. The intense bipartisan negotiations led by Sens. Ben Nelson and Susan Collins could have lasting repercussions beyond the economic package. As Sen. Evan Bayh suggests, that group "might be the president's best allies, helping him achieve his objective but honoring the reform message he stands for."


Obama's graceful rise to the White House left many with the hope that he could somehow permanently suspend the laws of political gravity. The president never harbored that illusion, nor should all of us who root for him. Obama's success depends not on making the job look easy but on reminding the country that the road ahead will not be.

On bad days at the White House, the sky always looks like it's raining pianos. But Obama's quick recovery this week suggests there will be many better days ahead.

Bruce Reed, who was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, is CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council and co-author with Rahm Emanuel of The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America.E-mail him at thehasbeen@gmail.com. Read his disclosure here.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 3:53 PM Smash and Grab Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 20 2014 3:40 PM Keeping It in the Family Why are so many of the world’s oldest companies in Japan?
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 5:03 PM Marcel the Shell Is Back and as Endearing as Ever
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.