Commentary Magazine


Obama Reaches Out to the Chamber of Commerce

One of the low points of the midterm elections came when the Obama administration started darkly insinuating — without evidence — that the Chamber of Commerce was secretly funded by shady foreign corporations. Conservatives immediately denounced these attacks as cheap, desperate, and unsubstantiated.

Now President Obama seems finally to be conceding that his attacks on the Chamber were nothing more than baseless, cynical political maneuvering. According to Politico, Obama has begun reaching out to the Chamber and is planning to speak at one of its events next month:

Moving to repair a deep rift with leading CEOs, President Barack Obama plans to speak at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event next month and the two sides are trying to work out details, White House and Chamber officials said Saturday.

The talks mark a dramatic rapprochement between the Chamber, which spent tens of millions of dollars in the midterm election to defeat Democrats, and the president, who openly criticized the “world’s largest business federation” for accepting contributions from undisclosed donors.

Considering the fact that Obama referred to the Chamber as “a threat to our democracy” during the election, this move can’t be seen as anything other than a complete about-face. Mike Allen calls it “the White House’s clearest move to the center since the Nov. 2 elections,” and he’s right. Hopefully this is a sign that the Obama administration is going to begin heeding the message voters sent earlier this month.

But if Obama does start working more closely with pro-business groups, it will be interesting to see what the response will be from his left-leaning supporters, who are already becoming vocal about their lack of faith in the president.