On Inauguration Day, Gingrich said recently, he told his wife, Callista, that if Obama followed through on what he had said throughout the campaign, “he will be Eisenhower and he will split the Republican Party.”
Later that evening, Gingrich joined a dozen or so other Republicans for a dinner at the Caucus Room restaurant. Their conversation about how to plot a comeback was described in some detail by author Robert Draper in his book “Do Not Ask What Good We Do.”
When Gingrich left the dinner, he told his colleagues, “You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”And,
White House officials mark Jan. 27, 2009, as the day they realized what they were facing. Obama was scheduled to go to Capitol Hill to discuss the stimulus bill with House and later Senate Republicans. In a meeting that morning, then-House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) exhorted his troops to oppose the bill. Before the president left the White House, House Republicans publicly announced their opposition. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff during the first two years of the Obama administration, said recently, “If you decide before you listen what your position is, it’s really hard to build trust, cooperation and openness.” A senior adviser to Boehner provided a different context. He said Boehner was trying to appeal to the president to break with House Democrats on the stimulus. “We wanted to get the president to reject the House stimulus and work with us on one that would work,” he said. “At that point, we were still hoping to work with him in the bipartisan way he’s described.”
What Republicans were asking was, in fact, extraordinary. They were asking him to make a compromise he did not have to make. They were asking him to reject his party and invite Republicans into the room. They were asking that he make a gesture simply to show he was serious about changing politics — without any guarantee that by doing so he would win even a minimal number of Republican votes.