By Greg Smith
“Elections have consequences. . .I won.” President Obama to congressional Republicans on, Jan. 23, 2009, three days after his inauguration.
Or did he?
For someone who regularly lectures on bipartisanship, President Obama can’t seem to open his mouth without bashing Republicans for having different opinions. On Wednesday Mr. Post Partisanship said Republican “obstruction” has led to “the least productive Congress in modern history, recent memory.”
The president has the bully pulpit, yet he uses it to attack Republicans at every turn rather than engage them in a manner that at least could be mistaken for an intellectually honest debate. Obama has regularly refused any compromise, such as on the debt ceiling, so what are House Republicans, who for good reason don’t expect bipartisanship from Obama, going to pass that either he or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will seriously consider?
Trust is a two-way street. Since Obama’s first term he has shown a complete disregard for the thoughts or beliefs of his political adversaries. That is what got him in such trouble in 2010 when Republicans picked up 63 House seats. With further Republican gains in 2014 all but certain, Obama’s term as far as domestic policy is effectively over. He will be relegated to, if Democrats hold the Senate, judicial nominations and the errant executive decision the White House will tout as legacy material.
Obama’s legacy will rest on a single unpopular piece of legislation Senate Democrats are still trying to alter four years after it was passed. Instead of choosing compromise to eek out new achievements, the president is choosing to run out the clock and hope history will judge him on his personality instead of his accomplishments, or lack thereof.
In 2008 Democrats nominated a charismatic person who thought his personal charm and fresh personality would magically bridge serious policy divides. He has completely failed and blames his opponents for not surrendering to his demands rather than accepting responsibility for his own unwillingness to compromise; his failure to lead.
“He believes he’s a game-changer, but I don’t believe the game has changed,” said chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Cole in 2008. “It’s captivating. It’s intoxicating, but it’s not going to last.”
Republicans don’t seem to have learned the obvious lesson of the previous six years. “The game” requires a solid, serious platform, as well as the ability to explain it to Americans. While the president relies on being Obama, Republicans seem to be running simply on not being Obama. Both strategies are doomed to failure. ©
Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.