A Star Boy In The Bully Pulpit
Barack Bogarts the Republicans!
It is in the nature of things that self-centered ideologues will inevitably mistake kindness for weakness. Thus it comes as no surprise to the careful observer that the attempts at bipartisanship by President Obama – hosting a reception honoring his vanquished opponent; meeting with right wing columnists who savaged him during the election; inviting Republicans to a super bowl party in the White House; etc – would be interpreted as weakness by those ideological automatons who appear in the guise of reactionary Republicans. But in a series of speeches culminating in the verbal blitzkrieg on Thursday, Barack struck back and let the Republicans in the Senate know in no uncertain terms that he is no pushover.
In fact, the President was so forceful in his repudiation of Republican resistance, and so vociferous in his rejection of their intellectually bankrupt economic dogma, that the Afro-American newsman Ed Gordon summed up his attitude thusly: “Barack went gangsta on them!” I think it an apt description. The President made it clear that while he was interested in bipartisanship, which is to say that he is willing to seek compromise with the Republicans; he is not willing to do it at the expense of the American people. He had already told the Republicans in an earlier meeting on the dimension and priorities of the pending Stimulus Bill: “I won!” Although he said it while flashing his beguiling smile, it was an unmistakable warning: “Move on over or we will move on over you!”
And on Thursday he took it to them and drew a line in the proverbial sand. He will get his way or there will be hell to pay! The last twenty days have perhaps been the most active and conseqential in presidential history. It this short span of time he has reversed George II’s inhumane policy of vetoing medical coverage to millions of American children who had no means of getting health care; signed an Executive order closing the American gulag at Guntanamo; and placed a limit on executive compensation for top management in firms receiving government bailout money. He has also nullified pay raises for his senior staff. These kinds of policies are unheard of on the part of an American President.
In other words, Barack has been busy as a beaver going about the people’s business. And he has made it abundantly clear that he will Brook no interference from the Republican naysayers – who are shameless obstructionist. While the great Democratic majority in the House allowed them to rush the legislation through, the Senate poses a formidable problem as John McCain, Lindsay Graham and that pugnacious Kentucky cracker Mitch McConnel have slowed the progress of recovery legislation, although they have no plan to deal with the present crisis. They are spouting the same old tired rhetoric that has led us into the present crisis; the main characteristic of which is contempt for the public interests and trickle down economics that favor the rich through massive tax cuts. If I were advising the President I would tell him to stand his ground and let the Republicans self-destruct by preventing action on a plan that the country desperately needs!
However because he focused like a laser on getting this stimulus package passed and bring relief to the millions of Americans who are losing their livelihoods and sinking fast, and to keep more American corporations and banks from going under Mr. Obama avoids all out brawls with the Republicans in favor of trying to finesse his legislative priorities through Congress. To accomplish his goals without a prolonged filibuster the President is forced to compromise by acceding to certain Republican demands. This is simply a recognition of the stubborn fact that politics is the art of the possible. Hence if is not possible it’s not politic; so I suspect we shall see our president use vinegar and honey as the situation demands. Because, after all is said and done, the fact remains the Barack Obama is a gifted politician, and he will not be denied!
Playthell Benjamin ,