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  • Political Theatre
    barack obama 2012 presidential election harry reid filibusters rand paul guns gun control Trench Warfare Mar 23 RNC Autopsy Is Latest Stop On The GOP s Cycle Of Grieving Jason Linkins Nick Wing Huffington Post 03 23 13 And my brief take on it from back in November Grief DW 1 note Permalink Posted at 3 46 PM Tagged republicans 2012 presidential election congress denial anger Bargaining depression acceptance Kübler Ross politics Political Theatre Jan 22 Augury There s a funny turn of phrase in the opening of President Barack Obama s second inaugural address Each time we gather to inaugurate a president Of course we don t inaugurate a president We inaugurate a presidential term of office This was no mere slip of the tongue nor is it mere nitpicking President Obama like so many before him is conscious of how the American people see him and the office he holds Over time we have conflated the man or probably someday soon woman and the office into one We attribute a level of power and authority to the office holder by simple virtue of holding the office President Obama however is not a king Nor for that matter is he a King The rhetoric of his address was bland and uninspiring returning again and again to We the people to start off each new section This too is no mere quibble Obama for all of his good will and good intentions can do nothing alone If his first term taught him anything it had to have been how little power he wields without the perceived backing of the people His stand against the congressional Republicans this past December might make us think he has finally found the courage to take charge of his agenda in a way entirely missing from his first term and in a way that will finally benefit a long frustrated electorate We might be tempted to think this has come from somewhere deep inside him but we would be wrong Like any real mandate what we saw last month and on display in front of the Capital building yesterday came from outside of him and not all from the same place For one thing he will never have to run for office again That s one enormous thing less to lose than everyone he ll be dealing with on the Hill It means he can and will take risks he wouldn t have dreamed of taking in his first term He s entering the Legacy phase of his political life when the idea of how he ll be remembered fills the void left by having to campaign This will be four years of lasts filled with last moments and last opportunities and countless last times Having nothing to lose but a legacy and knowing the end is near means taking risks For a president known as much for the risks he failed to take as for the few he did this is significant There were times in that first term when he came close for instance calling out Republicans as hostage takers two years ago as the debt battles began but he still shied away making regressive deals from a self imposed position of weakness He won t do that now Probably He s helped by another thing the self inflicted implosion of support for congressional Republicans Until forced to face their humiliation in last month s fiscal cliff debacle they had well earned being called hostage takers The crisis of last month was one in a long line of obstructionism going back to the beginning of Obama s first term and as much as the American people hate a leader who seems incapable of leading they hate obstructionists that much more Perhaps it just took the President a bit longer than it should have to realize that you can t negotiate with obstructionists that he was enabling them and fueling them by doing so Perhaps he would have had more success if four years ago he d taken the risks he s about to now We ll never know and we shouldn t waste our time trying to What we do know is that the congressional Republicans preemptively announced that they d be taking the debt ceiling off the table at least for now The issue has clearly become toxic for them in particular because they haven t been able to bring it up without insisting on lowering taxes for the fabulously wealthy the proverbial gun to the nation s head Instead they re now trying a new tack insisting that they ll keep kicking the can down the road if the Democratic majority in the Senate passes a budget something it has not done in four years Arguably the Democrats should have done this In theory they re supposed to They could have at the very least proposed a budget even if they dared not bring it to the floor For this we do have Senator Harry Reid to blame Majority Leader Reid constant campaigner and fundraiser that he is has surely failed in this basic function of governance for two reasons the first being the aforementioned Republican obstructionism The second and why we should all be so skeptical about Republican calls for a Senate budget now is that Democrats would have to state their positions on just about everything Reid knows as well as anyone that taking a position means that opponents can use it against you The bigger the bill the more positions there are with the greatest opportunities to exploit the complexities of the language To put a bill up for a vote is in and of itself taking a position and a failure on that vote makes the ones proposing it look bad The only reason Republicans want a bill from the Democrats is so they can reject it and then campaign on that rejection and selected talking point friendly line items from the bill for the next however many months leading up to the mid terms This is why Reid is still selling his glacially paced filibuster reform If the Republicans want a bill they can reject it ll have to get close enough to the Senate floor to be rejected and that means Republicans will have to stop using the filibuster like a roll call What most Americans seem to want is for a Senator to have to stand up in the actual Senate and speak like Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes To Washington They want to see a face They want accountability Will they get it Not so much Just as the mild rhetorical courage presented by President Obama comes from never having to campaign again each and every one of the Senators and Representatives is campaigning right now Reid s too late stand on the filibuster comes because he finally sees how he can beat the Republicans with it If he puts something up for a vote it will only be because he s already counted the votes No moral victories thank you That s just not how things get done or not done as we ve seen all too often For their part the Republicans feigned demonstration of contrite reasonableness has come from too late recognition that they couldn t beat the Democrats in 2012 just by being a bunch of dicks They re all trying to figure out how they can win the next campaign even the ones not eyeing the 2016 presidential race That so many huffed and puffed at Obama s not a nation of takers jab is all we need to see what our future holds It won t be pretty We get the term inauguration from the word augur In ancient Rome a high priest would look at entrails and other signs at the festival commemorating the beginning of a term of office They wanted to see what the future would bring and just as important whether the office holder was worthy of holding office Based on what we saw and heard yesterday the future isn t that hard to predict and the worthiness of those holding office well for that too we have only ourselves to blame Daniel Ward Permalink Posted at 7 36 PM Tagged barack obama 2012 presidential election martin luther king republicans Paul Ryan Mitch McConnell budgets taxes fiscal cliff debt ceiling hostage taking obstructionism bullying marco rubio 2016 presidential race Augury Jan 09 Tantrums pt 3 So John Boehner told Harry Reid to go f k himself There have been far worse things said in Washington There have been ever so pleasant seemingly harmless words spoken that led to the deaths of thousands In truth the House Speaker s momentary lapse into public vulgarity really only tells us one thing he forgot they weren t alone If we re being honest Harry Reid probably gets told to go f k himself all the time As Senate Majority Leader he s been weak and ineffective Even his seemingly bold attempt to undo years of Republican obstructionism by reforming the filibuster has lost steam It s really a no brainer what was proposed force those threatening to block legislation to go through with it to stand on the floor of the Senate and actually speak Take that idea to the American people and see how it polls It s a winner It always has been Yet Reid hasn t taken it to the people not seriously He s wasted years allowing Republicans and members of his own party to block legislation by merely threatening to filibuster some even just suggesting that they might threaten to do it In his half hearted effort to reform things he seems to have taken a new threat more seriously if senators can t use the threat of a filibuster to block legislation they ll just find some other way remaining in the shadows blocking anything that moves and playing even more havoc with the Senate Reid s solution was to recess the Senate and table overhauling the rules for after their Winter break We should all be telling him to go f k himself Oh but that wasn t why Boehner was screaming at him Reid had called Boehner a dictator He d suggested that Boehner alone had caused the fiscal cliff clusterf k through an arrogant disregard for the interests of the American people Well Reid may have been wrong to blame it all on Boehner but he probably knew that And knowing that he was probably just being a dick That s what politicians do to each other Boehner s on the ropes so Reid s just getting a few cheap shots in before the Speaker goes down because kicking a man when he s down is where most people draw a line Boehner was probably right to be mad He didn t cause the fiscal cliff mess at least not by himself He had his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell to thank as well as his own Majority Leader Eric Cantor not to mention the vast majority of the congressional Republicans who clearly had deluded themselves into thinking they had a better hand to play Boehner was the public face of their hubris but they all deserve blame Four years ago they lost a humiliating defeat one they chose for the most part to blame on factors well beyond their control Obama was a popular charismatic candidate people still didn t know he benefitted from what many inside the Beltway were sure was an unforeseeable economic calamity that despite its unforeseeable ness was called one of those things that just happens Keynes be damned their strongest potential candidates for some reason chose not to run and oh yes everyone blamed the wildly unpopular incumbent president who happened to be a Republican for everything So they dug their heels in and waited President Obama would be the one on whose back hopes for economic salvation would be laid and he would likewise be the one at whose feet blame for failure could be laid They caught a lucky break in that Obama was and remains at heart a conciliator Just as they failed to realize that their fight against regulation and oversight had run the country and much of the world into a ditch so too had the President failed to understand that you can t negotiate with people who haven t and quite possibly couldn t have made that realization Obama wasn t dealing with grownups He was dealing collectively with a small child who wanted to do what he wanted to do and didn t want to have to care about what the other small children wanted or needed Obama in repeatedly failing to recognize this enabled their repeated tantrums and everyone knows what happens when you do that they only get worse Before we go any further let s for a moment address the argument that congressional Republicans really do have others interests at heart that cutting spending is entirely about reducing the deficit and the crippling debt that will eat away at entitlements and destroy the country s credit rating In a word hogwash When Republican administrations have been in power Republican caucuses have never bothered about deficits or debt ceilings Why The money being spent was going into their pockets or the pockets of their friends which is just as good Plus you don t attack your own party when they re in the White House unless you know you re a Democrat Only when the economy tanked and the Republicans had a Democrat to deal with did they suddenly recognize the importance of being fiscally conservative So enough of that malarkey Every initiative Obama or congressional Democrats put forward from his own bloated poorly timed health care overhaul seriously let s be honest to a bill funding aid for 9 11 first responders the Republicans dug their heels in and demanded aggressive spending cuts These cuts rarely came from their own districts and never from the one or two departments they consider essential to lobbying Most of all they demanded tax cuts for the already stupidly wealthy Starve the beast it s called It does nothing for fiscal sanity but it does reduce regulation and oversight And it seemed to be working In Obama s first two years he enabled their tantrums he put forward complicated poorly explained and therefore easy to attack legislation and nobody in the media seemed to connect Republican obstructionism with nothing ever getting done In reaction to the panic this enabled the Tea Party movement started because it was mostly just a bunch of genuinely angry political novices it was easily co opted into a force to maintain and even expand pushing massive tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to everything else not firing ammunition including the Veterans Administration And the Democrats especially Reid and then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn t help They did an awful job explaining everything as they always seem to do Coming across as weak and ineffectual they enabled the Republicans to portray them that way in every 2010 campaign ad not picturing Obama with Stalin and Hitler The Republicans took back the House and saw no reason not to double down on everything Obama it seemed would lose in 2012 and they could make whatever deals they wanted with a Republican president And then Obama won Again Perhaps in retrospect it s a good thing that the Democrats are so weak and ineffectual at showing their counterparts for what they are Perhaps too it s a good thing that President Obama has proven to be such a disastrously reliable enabler of tantrums and bullying Were it not for these repeated failures the over confident Republicans might never have allowed their repeated tantrums and bullying to undermine their own goals Ever since the Republicans held a gun to nation s collective head two Decembers ago they ve been spiraling downward in public opinion They still and always will have their base but that base is shrinking and by no mere coincidence it is shrinking in lockstep with their threats to shut down the government and their attempts to blame Obama for making them make those threats The most dangerous thing about them for the rest of us is that they haven t yet hit rock bottom Which sort of leads us to Boehner s real tantrum the one at the expense of Hurricane Sandy victims Exhausted by his very public fiscal cliff humiliation and bitter that members of his caucus including his own Majority Leader and Whip had shown such public disloyalty in rejecting both his Plan B and in voting against the final deal Boehner threw yet another very public tantrum Not only would he not bring a bill aiding homeless storm victims to the floor in January he yelled at and actively ducked members of his own caucus to do so That the bill was being shepherded by the disloyal Eric Cantor probably had something to do with it The blowback was obvious A pared down version of the bill was brought to the floor a couple of days later if for no other reason than the universal anger directed at Republicans for letting a hissy fit cause so much additional misery And even then there were Republicans willing to trump Boehner s dick move by voting against the bill Remember that thing about not kicking people when they re down The 67 Republicans including former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan seem not to learned that lesson and they weren t even kicking other politicians That Boehner was reelected to the Speakership shouldn t be taken as a sign of confidence He s been neutered and everybody knows it The Republicans just couldn t take a shellacking like this one and then not reelect him That would have been an admission of failure They re just not there yet

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