Obama tells Republican foes to 'win an election.' Taunting?

In his post-government shutdown speech, President Obama suggested the best way for Republicans to get what they want is to win an election. Conservatives saw the remark as gloating.

Charles Dharapak/AP
With an audience of staff members, President Obama speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington Thursday, the day after the government avoided a financial default and reopened after a 16-day partial shutdown.

President Obama on Thursday slammed his Republican opponents in the recent US fiscal crisis, saying they had hurt the economy and America’s image by shutting down the government and threatening national default in an attempt to defund Obamacare.

“Let’s be clear: there are no winners here,” Obama said in White House remarks following the morning’s reopening of the federal government.

Responsible Republicans and Democrats came together to negotiate an end to the impasse, he said. But that did not rule out future “self-manufactured” political crises.

“To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change,” said the president.

Obama said that politicians should stop focusing on lobbyists, bloggers, talking heads, and “professional activists who profit from conflict” to focus on creating jobs and getting the nation’s fiscal house in order.

Specifically, he said Washington should now focus on a “balanced approach to a responsible budget,” passage of immigration reform, and finishing a farm bill.

“Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now. And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people,” said the president.

Obama went on to praise the work of furloughed government workers, saying they care for seniors and veterans, ensure workplaces, food, and toys are safe, and other numerous vital services.

He said he recognizes that some people disagree vehemently with his policies. But disagreement needs to be resolved in the normal democratic process, he said.

“You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it,” he said.

Obama’s tough tone was hard to miss. He wasn’t singing “Kumbaya” and asking everyone to join hands. His message, in essence, was this: I won fair and square within the normal democratic process. If you don’t like it, take back the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, if you can.

Some on the right saw this as Obama waving his victory in the face of conservative Republicans after outmaneuvering them on the shutdown and deficit debacle.

“This pro-government victory lap is unnecessary and nauseating,” tweeted conservative media star S.E. Cupp.

The conservative news site Twitchy aggregated a list of annoyed comments from conservatives, with many of them focusing on the “win an election” phrase, saying it was a taunt.

“We expected President Obama to spike the football during his post-shutdown victory speech this morning, but he still managed to make our jaws hit the floor with” the election remark, wrote Twitchy.

Non-conservatives had a slightly different take on this tone, which was perhaps best summed up by humor columnist Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker.

“Obama Declares National Day of Gloating,” ran the title on Borowitz’s column Thursday.

“It would not be productive for this nation, going forward, to crow about our victory over political adversaries,” wrote Borowitz in his satirical version of the president’s speech. “So let’s get it all out of our systems today.”

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