Politics Magazine

Obama and the Republicans

Posted on the 20 April 2011 by Erictheblue

During his general election campaign for the presidency, I sometimes tried to put angry words in Candidate Obama's mouth.  Fight back!  But doing things his way, "No Drama" Obama won 364 electoral votes, including those of Indiana, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado.  Pretty good.  What do I know?

Now he's been president long enough to get a health care reform bill passed and I've spent most of the time silently shouting at him in my soul.  Fight back!  His opponents won't vote for a "public option," so it is withdrawn, and they vote against health-care reform sans public option.  What's the point of playing ball with these characters?

I know, I know, you can't win with 51 votes in the Senate, you need 60, and Obama has to deal with Republicans who'd rather break eleven commandmants than permit him to achieve something, not to mention the preening deliberations of the likes of Joe Lieberman.  Plus Obama's read a lot of Reinhold Niebuhr on "realism."  Okay!  But Gawd, it's hard to watch.

Regarding the deficit and the Ryan plan, I agree with everything Obama (finally) said last Wednesday.  Since the Ryan plan is crazy, I hope we don't end up with something half way between Obama and Ryan, because that would be at least half crazy.  It is as if the Republicans are being rewarded for living on Fantasy Island.  All we card-carrying members of the reality-based community know that people like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are full of batshit.  Still, their gravitational pull is displacing the "center" of American politics.

The Republican view seems to me not just crazy but nihilistic.  The goal should be to have a fair, decent, prosperous society.  But for them low tax rates are an end in themselves.  There is an argument in theology about whether God commands things because they are good or things are good because God commands them.  Republicans must hold to the latter view.  With regard to taxes, anyway, the Republican view is that they're bad because Republicans have said so.  It's hard to argue that their policy prescriptions have led to anything good.  After twelve years of Reagan and the first Bush, the economy was in the hospital, the federal deficit the greatest it had ever been.  Clinton was elected and proposed an economic  program that included a modest tax hike on high earners.  Not a single Republican in either House or Senate voted for it. They had a lot of Chicken Little arguments about what a catastrophe it would be if enacted.  It was enacted anyway and the catastrophe didn't develop.  Quite the opposite.  Then the second Bush became president, tax-cutting policies were re-instituted, and after eight years of it the economy was in the ICU again.  

But that is all beside the point. Fundamentalists care nothing for logic, reason, and experience.  Republicans aren't offering the country anything, or addressing its problems in a serious way.  Health care costs, for example, have been rising alarmingly for a generation. Their solution?  Repeal "Obamacare" and slough skyrocketing costs onto the elderly and the infirm. 

Perhaps Obama, by letting the Republicans "lead" on the budget, has permitted them to hang themselves.  If that is the plan, he won't be compromising with them, right?  He'll be kicking down the scaffolding below the trap door. 

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