Iowa senator Chuck Grassley is something of an odd character. As I've said before, he used to be considered a reasonable moderate, but in the last couple of years he has basically turned himself into a Tea Party wingnut, combining the ideological extremism, face palm-inducing stupidity, and general craziness that makes that political movement so charming (although I was recently informed that even a couple of decades ago, before Grassley began publicly yelling at clouds, people in the Senate privately considered him kind of a nut).
Today, The Hill reports that Grassley, who has spent the last five years floating conspiracy theories, impugning Barack Obama's motives, and telling truly vicious lies about his policies, is upset that Obama doesn't call him more often. Seriously.
In 2009, Obama basically had Grassley on speed dial, calling him frequently during negotiations over an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. Grassley at the time was one of three Republicans on the Group of Six, which also included Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and former Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine).
"During that period of time, the president would call me on my cellphone and talk to me. I don't know if it was a half a dozen times or a dozen times, but enough so you remember he called you," Grassley said.
The relationship unraveled after a meeting at the White House in August 2009.
"We had a meeting down at the White House about Aug. 5, 2009 — the six of us — and he asked me this question: 'Would you be willing to be one or two or three Republicans voting with the Democrats to get a bipartisan bill?' and I said, 'No,' " Grassley recalled.
"I never had a phone call from him since," Grassley added.
So Grassley told Obama flat out that he would never vote for a health care bill, no matter what—and Obama stopped bothering to win his support. Amazing! But that's not even the whole story. At the same time, Grassley was out telling constituents that the Affordable Care Act contained death panels that would "pull the plug on Grandma." And for some reason, the president no longer found it worthwhile to massage Grassley's ego.
And it isn't just Grassley. Other Republicans are upset that Obama has abandoned his "charm offensive" meant at finding bipartisan compromise on things over which Republicans have made clear they will never compromise. Republicans are appalled, appalled I tell you, that Obama is going out and making speeches arguing for the policy changes he'd like to see. "I preferred it when he sat down for dinner with Republicans," huffs Sen. Lamar Alexander, who presumably is now eating alone, gazing at an 8x10 photo of him and Barack Obama in happier days, their arms around each other's shoulders as they share a tender moment, just before Alexander joins every other Republican to filibuster every bill the president supports.
You might be able to argue that Republican behavior over Obama's tenure has been defensible. They dislike him intensely, but more importantly they disagree with his policy priorities, so they very consciously adopted a strategy of total and unwavering opposition to everything he wants to do, not only because they object to the particular goals but because they calculated that by obstructing and hobbling him they could make future political victories more likely. Fair enough. But you can't choose that path, and then complain that the president isn't working hard enough to win you over, when you've already made it quite clear you won't be won over. It's as though a salesman came to your door and asked if you might be interested in buying aluminum siding, and you immediately began screamed in his face that he's trying to destroy your home and you'd never buy his siding in a million years, and then started swinging a baseball bat at him, and when he retreated, you turned to your spouse and said, "That guy didn't even try to win me over—what a jerk!"