The costs of crossing the president

The costs of crossing the president

April 21st, 2010

By BRUCE J. SCHULMAN, Politico

 Hope and Change!  Or else…

Will the White House punish Democrats who defected on the monumental health care overhaul?

“There is not a whole lot of [President] Barack Obama and [Vice President] Joe Biden to spare on a good day,” one senior White House official told POLITICO. “We’re going to have to focus on our friends.”

As for the five House Democrats who reversed their positions to vote against the final bill, another Obama aide said, “We appreciate the people who hung with us.”

The implied political hardball has drawn protests from some legislators. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, for example, now talks about the need to help all Democrats.

But Obama’s approach is hardly novel.

Many presidents have aggressively disciplined wayward legislators: manipulating committee slots, stripping privileges, even campaigning against them in primaries.

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