It’s time to Break It Down!
Ultimately, if you really want to know the answer to that question, you would do well to ask them. Having said that, I recognize my personal limitations in addressing, knowledgeably, such a complex issue as the question at hand. Therefore, I will stipulate from the outset I will consult sources more intimately familiar with the subject than I am, or will likely ever be.
Today, as the nation stands poised to usher in a new Congress, with a Republican Majority in both Houses, the GOP frequently speaks with great passion and enthusiasm about the voters having spoken, and having given their Party a clear and unequivocal numerical advantage in the House and Senate. They consider that a mandate. As a result, they are, or at least they feign incredulity that the President even contemplated, to say nothing of took action to employ Executive Orders, with which they obviously disagree. They warned of “An explosion” if the President used an Executive Order to activate movement on the Immigration front.
I applaud the GOP on their impressive victory last month. However, let’s not get carried away. I could at least respect, if not appreciate this logic leap, were it consistently applied. What ever do I mean, you ask? I mean, quite simply, that in 2008, President Obama won the Presidency, and Democrats swept to substantial victories in both the House and the Senate. Guess what the reaction of the GOP Elite was. Do you think, perchance, it was to say, “Good job Democrats; let’s see how we can work together to advance legislation, big and small?
Aitch to da no! In fact, key members of the GOP Leadership, including, among others, Representatives, Eric Cantor (VA), Paul Ryan (WI), Kevin McCarthy (CA), and Pete Sessions (TX), along with Senators, Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ), Tom Coburn (OK), John Ensign (NV), and Bob Corker (TN) held an anti-Obama/Democrats strategy session. Non-lawmakers in the meeting included Newt Gingrich and Frank Luntz.
According to Robert Draper’s book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives,” the group spent four hours on the evening of the Inauguration, plotting ways to not just win back political power, but to put the brakes on President Obama’s legislative platform. The author quoted Representative McCarthy as saying, “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority. We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”
This meeting resulted in a defined game plan moving forward that included the following points:
- Go after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Which Senator Kyl did, beginning the next day.)
- Show united and unyielding opposition to the President’s economic policies (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against President Obama’s economic stimulus plan.
- Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airways (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would be run in less than two months.)
- Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the House and Senate in 2012.
While, Mitch McConnell were not present during the meeting discussed above, by the end of 2010, after the GOP took control of the House, Senator McConnell was at least spiritually on board, as he declared, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” This after he was quoted in the November 4, 2010 Edition of the National Journal as saying, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”
According to the Gospel of Conservatives, President Obama and his “God-awful” policies are the foundation of bedeviling economic failure. This is the narrative the GOP has spun since the President proposed the initial stimulus package, as well as during the bailouts of the banking system, and the automotive industry. In hindsight, most economists view the combined effects of the stimulus package, TARP, and the auto bailout as pivotal steps in applying an economic tourniquet that stopped the bleeding and prevented the Great Recession from expanding to become the next depression.
Moreover, over the duration of the 6 years completed in President Obama’s tenure, the Dow has grown from 7,949 to 17,830, the Unemployment Rate has dropped from 7.8% to 5.8%, GDP Growth has progressed from -5.4% to 3.5%, and the GDP Deficit has decreased from 9.8% to 2.8%. In other words, while the job is not complete; there is still work to be done to improve our economy, and create high wage, full-time employment opportunities, we may not be where we want to be, but thank God, we are not where we were.
In the process of rescuing and rebuilding our economy, President Obama has presided over 56 consecutive months of private sector job growth; a record for the country. His detractors will argue that too many of the jobs are, low-wage, part-time, full time, but less than the standard 40-hour work week, and that the low level of work force participation is responsible for the downward trajectory of the unemployment rate.
The truth of the matter is these factors are infrastructural in nature, existed before President Obama took office, and are likely to persist long after he is gone. More truth…as noted above, the GOP has fought the president every step of the way. If he had even a modicum of assistance and/or support from the so-called “loyal opposition,” the economy would be in even better shape than it is. As it stands, he’s done a hellava job, and his economic policy initiatives, when viewed in the cold light of day and the inexorable passage of time, have been on target more often than errant.
Whether the discussion has been the economy, health care, voting rights, gun law modification, Presidential appointments, immigration, race relations…whatever the subject, the GOP has adamantly opposed President Obama. In several instances, the Grand Old Party has abandoned a previous position, rather than align itself with a proposal offered by the President. It would be funny, were it not so ridiculous, and all too often deleterious to our country, and of course to us as citizens.
When cobbling together the tenets of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, the plan was ultimately framed with components that in large measure had been previously recommended by the Heritage Foundation, the foremost conservative think tank. Needless to say, with the Obama imprimatur intact, the proposal was DOA, as far as Republicans were concerned. As a result, In December 2009, the U.S. Senate passed the measure 60-39, without a single GOP vote. Later, in March 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill 219-212, also without a single Republican vote. The GOP likes to cite this as an example of the President’s unwillingness to work with their Party in a bi-partisan fashion. This assertion is a perfect example of revisionist history, in light of the pact Party Leadership committed to and began executing immediately after the President took Office.
In June 2013, The Supreme Court ruled Section IV of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. The net effect of that action is that certain states, which were required to seek permission to change their voting laws no longer had to do so. That change immediately led to states enacting a series of changes in voting laws that disproportionately affected minorities, students, and the elderly. The changes included requiring voter I.D’s, shortening, or eliminating Early Voting, eliminating same day registration, and making it more difficult for college students to vote. The GOP Party apparatus supported virtually all of these changes. Interestingly, with the exception of the elderly, President Obama won handily the demographics directly curtailed by the new laws.
On the question of Gun Law reform, the NRA has made President Obama one of, if not its most prolific membership campaign issue. The organization presents the President as the guy most likely to take away guns from law abiding NRA members…like me. The suggestion however, is as bogus as the day is long. If statistics are any indication, it’s working, though. Despite numerous mass murders, school shootings, and other horrific gun related killings, after nearly each one, especially those which the President has spoken out on, the NRA or members of the gun lobby initiates PR Campaigns that spike gun sales, often Assault Rifles. The thing is, in the midst of the grainy details, President Obama has not only not taken way peoples’ guns, gun sales and gun ownership are actually increasing under his tenure. The NRA should probably write him a Thank-You check when he leaves office.
As it relates to filibustering Presidential Appointments, it’s fair to say, this is a partisan exercise that has gone on for ages. Moreover, on first blush, I would tend to agree with anyone who made such a case. However, upon closer inspection…always it comes down to the details, the gritty facts of the matter tell a clear story. In the history of the United States, there have been 168 filibustered nominations. Before President Obama, there were 86. On average, that is exactly 2 for each of the 43 Presidents who preceded Mr. Obama. That means, for you higher math whizzes, that 82 of President Obama’s nominees (so far) have been filibustered. That is 41 times as frequent as his predecessors on average. By the way, I am still bemused when I consider, Senator McCain selected Sarah Palin as his Vice President nominee, but considered Dr. Susan Rice unqualified to become Secretary of State. I’ll leave you to ponder that one.
About immigration, it’s worth noting, America, as we have come to know it, is a country of immigrants. That is more than a passing notion. In fact, it is of primal importance. For most of its history, America has been a predominantly white country. But let us not forget, this great nation was occupied when Europeans arrived. Over time, Native Americans, “who hosted us,” for the first Thanksgiving, were dispersed, displaced, or just plain decimated. No, it’s not depicted that way in American History books…but that’s the way it was. That is what happened. Moreover, a large expanse of what we now consider the Southwest and the West was inhabited by people we now call Mexicans. Yes, America was quite different before the explorers, expansionists, cowboys, and other adventurists arrived on the scene. Given the state of our manners and scruples, I can understand why we, collectively, have such a jaded view on immigration. I mean look how we handled it. By the way, were slaves undocumented workers?
Recently, as a result of Congress’ lack of action on Immigration, President Obama, as promised, signed an Executive Order to facilitate immigration action in this country. Republicans are characterizing his action as unique, unlawful, and unconstitutional. They are making this claim, even though every President since George Washington has issued Executive Orders, and it is particularly noteworthy that every president since and including Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration without facing threats of lawsuits, government shutdowns, impeachment, or loss of executive authority. End of story!
Finally, when it comes to race relations, the first Black President, as he is known, is firmly lodged between a rock and a hard place. When he is not being called a socialist, or a Muslim, or an African (as in not born in America), of a Kenyan anti-colonial, or a community organizer, he is called a racist who hates white people, which is interesting, as his mother is Caucasian.
On Monday, President Obama sat for an interview with BET, in the aftermath of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who initiated what appeared to be a chokehold that led to the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. Conservative America frequently argues that President Obama, who shows great restraint in most racial matters, over reaches and demonstrates a clear bias; actually a racist bent. They do this despite of the fact that he always, and I mean always, stresses the fact that we are a nation of laws, and the system must run its course. The curious thing about his critics’ position on this matter, particularly in an instance such as the Eric Garner case is, these are the same Americans who never trust their government…until a neighborhood watchman or a police officer shoots and/or kills an unarmed black man. At that point, amazingly, they seem to trust the government (or its representative) completely.
So, after giving it considerable thought, I think I have figured it out. “What Do American Conservatives Want From President Obama?”
- They want him to wake them up and tell them they have been dreaming since November 4, 2008.
- They want him to convince them that the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections were really not what they have been “dreaming.”
- Yes, they want him to tell them that he is still Senator Obama, and that he is completing the fourth year of his second term as the now Senior Senator from Illinois.
Well…let me know how that works for ya. I’m done; holla back!
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