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Presidency

Obama's Mode of Playing Politics by Refusing to DO Politics

Is John Boehner calling President Obama's bluff?  As the House prepares to send the Senate and, one hopes, the President a bill for avoiding the shutdown and at least keeping the government operating an additional week (also--importantly--financing the military for the remainder of the year), President Obama issued a statement announcing that he will veto this bill because . . . because, why, exactly?

Boehner countered what was, in effect, Obama's non-statement with a solid statement of his own:  "I have just been informed that the White House has issued a veto threat on a bill that would keep the government from shutting down, without stating a single policy justification for President Obama's threatened veto.  Neither the President nor Senate Democrats have identified a single policy provision they find objectionable in the bill."

Indeed, if you believe that there is a specific principle or a line in the sand that the President will not cross announced in this message, you will need a cipher to discover it.  Yes, of course there is all this back-chatter about the President not liking the "horrible" riders Republicans want to keep in the final budget bill . . . but H.R. 1363 is not that bill.  Not that this would matter.  The President won't engage in that fight either.  As with the fight over health care (where he allowed his allies in Congress to take the policy lead), President Obama remains coy about his own views on those riders in the larger bill--preferring, instead, to use Harry Reid and other surrogates to do the dirty work of defending a willingness to shut down the government for the sake of funneling taxpayer funds to their friends and supporters at Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Obama will not engage on the real issues before him and, instead, works mightily to pretend that the issues presented to him by the representatives of the people are mere "distractions"--what he calls "politics" with that breath of contempt that is now all too familiar in him.  He thinks he can remain above the fray--always the academic observer of these petty squabblers in Congress where, by some freak of nature having nothing to do with the actual opinions and interests of the American people, the backward thinking of Republicans and their Tea-Party allies now prevails.  He imagines that this posture will win the trust of Americans who understand that they must bow to the consensus of finer minds like his and take their wisdom as received opinion.  His statement reads like this:  "Gee, I'd really like to work with those children on the Republican side . . . but, gosh, they've got to do their homework and catch up with me first." 

Yet, every once in awhile, the President's cool-as-a-cucumber act is tripped up by his own hot tongue.  Every once in a while, he betrays his contempt for those he claims to champion and his true sentiments about middle-class Americans spew forth.  In these cases, those who differ with him--instead of getting painted into a corner where their disagreement with the obvious consensus around his will is sacrilege--instead find themselves the cult-heroes of a newly energized American middle-class.  With his destined to be classic "You might want to think about a trade-in" remark, he evokes his "Spread the wealth around" remark and that other old favorite, the "tire-gauge" remark.  But, to be fair, I don't think he has ever uttered a truer sentence.  We might want to be thinking about a trade-in . . . in 2012.  Thanks for reminding us.

Here's a news-flash, Mr. President.  When you get "shellacked" in an election for control of the most representative body of your sovereign (i.e., the people of the United States) you no longer have the moral authority to make pronouncements about what is and what is not "politics."   Instead, you have to DO politics.  Man up. 
Categories > Presidency

Discussions - 4 Comments

I love that you finished with the "Man up" line. Simply awesome.

I am not hard over on a shutdown. I'm not sure I would push for one. Having said that, I'm all in favor of one if it must needs be occur. Now why is that?

For the following--if the reasoning behind the need to restore budgetary outlays to parity with budgetary inlays is sound, then not doing so means disaster will be the eventual result. Now I have no great desire for disaster. But on the other hand I would not sacrifice my own integrity and suppress desires to proffer my true judgment to my fellow citizens merely to curry favor with the people so that I could spend the next generation saving them from themselves. And so I hope it is with you, and with those in Washington.

Because it is the people's Republic. They will save it, or lose it, themselves. This has been the truth since the founding of the nation, and it will always remain true as long as it is truly a republic. They cannot be saved in spite of themselves. All that can be done is to show them what the proper path should be. But they cannot be made to follow that path if they don't wish to. Respecting the principle of popular sovereignty means respecting the principle of popular sovereignty. You have to respect the right of the people to be wrong if they choose to do so. But you do not have to make it easy on their consciences if they do so. You do not have to applaud folly. Nor--as Kipling tells us--should you appear "too wise". For we all have our moments of folly. But you don't have to let it go unremarked, either.

If the GOP--and more particularly the Tea Partiers--truly believe the budget should be cut as a matter of essential statecraft, then that is what they should advocate. If they are right, the people may very well recognize the rightness of the advocacy and reward those who espouse it--the results from Wisconsin are a sign that enough of them can be inclined in that direction as to make a difference (regardless of how the result turns out). We are not necessarily doomed to folly.

But if, as the things may sometimes be, they do not recognize and reward what is considered wisdom, then one party will have nevertheless shown that it is willing to die for its beliefs--and then there is still the fact that if the belief of the party desiring fiscal responsibility is correct, disaster is still going to happen--IF THE PEOPLE DO NOT TAKE STEPS TO AVOID IT. Which presumably, having rewarded the party of irresponsibility, it will, eventually.

But as these things happen, the disaster may happen slowly enough so that some corrective action can still be taken in time to prevent a full realization of the disaster--but by that time it will only be able to be taken by those with the ability and credibility to do so, who have shown they care more for nation than power. For half the nation simply will not follow those who led them into disaster willy-nilly even though they were warned. It will be essential to have another, credible alternative at that time.

And if the disaster somehow cannot be prevented, then even more essential will it be to have an element that has shown both wisdom and integrity despite adversity--for the history of this land shows how no disaster is never final, if it be determined that it will not be. We will come back. It will be far easier to do so if a group is able to assume office untainted by complicity in the disaster.

Therefore, it is time to stop making things easy for the people. They are the ultimate sovereign. They have the ultimate say. There are two contending parties for their favor, two groups that would advise them on how best to maintain this Republic. No substantial compromise appear possible in views between the two. A choice is simply going to have to be made by the sovereign, the people. They need to make a decision, choose a champion--and stand by the results for a while, come what may.

Therefore, I am not looking for a shutdown, nor am I looking to avoid one. It is simply time for the American people--for us all--to once again show that we have a Republic, and that we can keep it. It is time for us all to show that we are not only inheritors of a land that has been bequeathed to us by those that built it; that we are not just seemingly idle heirs wasting away the family fortune, but instead are worthy stewards, custodians, and guardians in our own right, as well as equally worthy builders and adders-on; craftsmen of liberty who are able to better things in this land in such ways and in such forms that our future inheritors will hopefully say of us, in awe: "Now in those days, there were AMERICANS."

Therefore, shutdown the government if needs be. It is nothing I pine for. But far better to shutdown the government for a while than the nation forever.

ERRATA:

My layers and layers of editors and fact-checkers have just informed me the following changes need to be made to my above jeremiad:

"-IF THE PEOPLE DO NOT TAKE STEPS TO AVOID IT. Which presumably, having rewarded the party of irresponsibility, it will, eventually." should read "Which presumably, having rewarded the party of irresponsibility, they will not."

-"for the history of this land shows how no disaster is never final" Well, from a philosophical and practical perspective, the disaster of the Civil War is still being fought out in diversity wars, so there is a certain truth there. Having said that, it should read "is ever final", not "never final". One hopes.

In order to "man up" the bus driver would need to find his chutzpah. Not gonna happen.

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