Washington dysfunction, with a twist: Democrats desert their president

Washington dysfunction, with a twist: Democrats desert their president
Credit: Stephen Crowley/ New York Times

He made it personal. He appealed to their loyalty. He asked them to give him what every modern president has had. He argued the facts, disputed the politics, quarreled over the history and at times lashed out at those who still refused to stand with him.

Yet in the end, after years of frustration with Republicans blocking his ideas in Congress, President Obama on Friday found the most sweeping legislative initiative left on his agenda thwarted not by the opposition but by his own party. If not for his fellow Democrats, Mr. Obama would have a landmark trade bill heading to his desk for signature.

The sting of defeat may be temporary. The White House adamantly insisted on Friday that it made important progress by passing part of the trade package and still has a chance to turn around the vote on the other part. If that proves true, Mr. Obama may yet secure the negotiating authority he needs to seal a legacy-building 12-nation Pacific trade agreement and the day’s setback may ultimately be overshadowed.

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