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
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.