June 11, 2012 By Jack Jodell
It pains me a great deal to write this, but I can no longer deny the truth: President Barack Obama is a political wimp who may very well go down to defeat, needlessly, in the November election. After three and a half years on the job, it has proven to be abundantly clear that what we thought we were electing in 2008 simply wasn’t there.
In the last election, the country was in an economic tailspin. There were very real and justified fears that we were about to enter into a depression; one that had signs of possibly being far more devastating and widespread than the Great Depression which began in 1929. After 8 long years of a not-too-bright and far-right laissez-faire capitalist George W. Bush (in concert with a cantankerous and defiant ideologue sidekick by the name of DICK Cheney), most of the country was ready for a big change. So, in desperation, they elected what they hoped would be a man of vision who would chart and lead us on a bold, brand new course, and the nation’s first African-American President as well, in Barack Obama.
Obama seemed to charge right out of the gate, as we had hoped and expected him to. He immediately signed an Executive Order directing the closure of the notorious detention center/torture chamber at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He pressed for and narrowly passed a series of Economic Stimulus packages, bailed out the struggling automotive industry (forcing it to make a number of beeded structural changes in the process), and pushed for and narrowly passed a flawed, but much more inclusive health care plan in the Affordable Care Act. Obama seemed to be everywhere doing everything, and all but the reactionary Republicans loved it.
In a dazzling array of accomplishment for his first year and a half in office, the President seemed to bowl over the Republicans. Neither he nor we knew at that time that a number of key GOP operatives had been meeting and plotting in secret, determined to thwart him at every opportunity. This, of course, would ensure that his administration would be a miserable failure so that they could regain control of Congress in 2010 and retake the White House in 2012. In the summer of 2009 and all the way through to the 2010 midterm elections, various groups of seemingly-very-angry-and-concerned voters seemed to spring up all over the country at once. They adopted the name of the Tea Party movement, and the mainstream media, egged on fiercely by the ridiculously far-right Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, began to report on this movement as if it were an honest, legitimate one, which it certainly was NOT in its early days! For the Tea Party was funded from its inception by far-right, shadowy activists like the notorious Koch Brothers and very conservative political action committees set up and run by defiant ultra-rightists like Dick Armey. Busloads of angry, shouting extremists were deliberately bused-in to Democratic congresspersons’ local constituent meetings and were equipped with signs and supplied with talking points to harangue the hapless legislators with. This form of anti-democracy disruption was widely reported (as though it were somehow a spontaneous, random occurrence and not something orchestrated), and managed to rile-up a great number of ill-informed voters (especially among the elderly). It succeeded in returning the House back to Republican control. The fact that sinister reactionary forces had managed to usurp control of the once moderate-right Republican Party by infusing it with a huge slate of uncompromising Tea Party fanatics remains badly unreported and misreported by the mainstream media to this very day! This turn of events was largely avoidable, and here is why:
President Obama always believed he was, and tried to be, the President of ALL the American people, not just the Democrats and Independents who elected him. Consequently, in the early days of his presidency, he repeatedly reached out to Republicans, but his efforts fell miserably flat. They were simply going to have none of it, and showed this in their nearly unanimous (and unprecedented) votes against nearly every single initiative he started or declared to be in favor of. He meekly accepted their behavior rather than justifiably castigating them publicly. He never engaged in LBJ-style arm-twisting, and instead allowed the GOP to walk all over him. He has never effectively used his bully pulpit as a bully pulpit. Resultantly, they never grew to respect or fear him, and this has had disastrous consequences. “You lie!”, screamed a very disrepectful GOP congressman named Joe Wilson during one of the President’s State of the Union addresses. This, of course, was off the charts in terms of rudeness; even at the start of the Civil War in 1861, then-President Abraham Lincoln was never shown such hostility and utter lack of respect!
Time and again, Obama caved-in on stands he had previously taken, compromising when Republicans themselves had refused to do so. A glaring example of this was how he abandoned completely a public option for his health care bill, as well as abandoning his pledge to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but the list has been seemingly endless and almost constant. For his stimulus package, he allowed the GOP to pressure him to include a good many tax cuts, many of which were unnecessary and deficit-building. And then, once the tax cuts were added, the Republicans voted against the bill anyway, almost to a person.
By and large, a precedent has been set, partly with Obama’s help. He has either made a pitch for something and immediately had to modify it, or he has agreed to something and then the Republicans have pushed him far to the right of what had been agreed upon. In the process, he has angered his base and repeatedly left them demoralized. Stuffy old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown Obama no political deference whatsoever, and has even declared publicly it is the primary focus of Senate Republicans to make certain the President is denied a second term! Obama unfortunately has shown little desire to browbeat such cheekiness, and has even failed to campaign in the recent crucial recall vote in Wisconsin! It makes one marvel at how such a gutless President can even think voters will re-elect him in the fall.
Obama needs to shed this naive notion that by being fair and inclusive, congressional Republicans will support his agenda and not try to derail it. They are currently smelling blood in the water, and he must take drastic steps NOW to ensure it will be THEIR political blood which will be spilled this fall rather than his. He needs to take off the gloves and Harry Truman these stodgy morons immediately and repeatedly, or he WILL definitely be a one-termer!
That, of course, would mean the already far-too-activist corporatist Supreme Court will grow even more reactionary than it has proven to be already; that the nation’s tax system will become even more regressive; our indefensible disparity in wealth will increase rather than decrease; and the military / industrial complex will soon involve us in yet another drawn-out and costly conflict.
THE STAKES ARE FAR TOO HIGH THESE DAYS. OBAMA HAD BETTER PUT UP HIS DUKES AND START COMING OUT SWINGING, AND IMMEDIATELY!