Sequestration will begin in March 1st unless Congress and the President call it off or make a more considered agreement about cuts and revenues. That puts us in countdown mode. Counting today, sequestration will happen in 8 days. Everyone seems most upset about cuts to the military and to national security, but the real killer here to me is more cuts to schools.
I put off reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern because sometimes circuses creep me out, but I should not have delayed. Once I got my hands on this book and read the first page I could hardly bear to put it down. The Night Circus is a book full of magic and it isn’t all due to the dueling magicians who have lived so long that they treat other people like playthings put in the world for their entertainment. Even these ancient magicians are not sure why they stage the “contests” they wage or what rewards come from winning.
WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.
The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”
According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.
For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.
“If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”
Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: ‘Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it—please?’)
Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)
Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.)
Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.
“You will remember this day,” Draper reports Newt Gingrich as saying on the way out. “You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”
Draper’s timeline is correct. On Jan. 21, 2009, Kyl aggressively questioned Geithner during his confirmation hearings. On Jan. 28, 2009, House GOP leadership held the line against the stimulus package (Senate GOP leadership would prove less successful in stopping defections).
The votes, of course, can be attributed to legitimate philosophical objection to the idea of stimulus spending as well as sincere concern that the secretary of the Treasury should personally have a clean tax-paying record. But what Draper’s book makes clear is that blunt electoral-minded ambitions were the animating force.
Whether or not that’s shocking depends on the degree to which one’s view of politics has been jaded. What’s certainly noteworthy is the timing. When Mitch McConnell said in October 2010 that his party’s primary goal in the next Congress was to make Obama a one-term president, it was treated as remarkably candid and deeply cynical. Had he said it publicly in January 2009, it would likely have caused an uproar.
By extension, however, the Draper anecdote also negatively reflects on the Obama administration for failing to appreciate how quickly congressional Republicans would oppose the president’s agenda.
Well I guess this puts all the talk about a “post-racial America” to rest.
The Associated Press released a report on Saturday that shows a majority of Americans, in fact an increasing number, still harbor prejudice against blacks and Hispanics. 51 percent of all Americans expressed anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in 2008 when the president first won election. Another AP survey showed 57 percent of Americans expressed anti-Hispanic feelings.
The results were not actually surprising. Once we got past the euphoria of Obama’s historic win, which was only possible with a multi-colored and multi-ethnic coalition, it became clear that the progress we gained was also going to result in a significant and predictably ugly backlash as well. Those who were not ready to see the long line of similarly pigmented men in the most powerful position on Earth were surely not going to sit back and not try to stir things up a bit.
It should be pointed out here that by no means do I believe all people who are against Obama are so inclined because he is part black (which to most means he is all black). Certainly the president has enough liberal and progressive ideas to make conservative folks cringe regardless of his skin color and ethnic background. I also don’t believe all Democrats, in every corner of the country, are cool with a black man running things. So this isn’t just about Republicans being racist.
But with that being said, there is no doubt that the Republican Party, and Mitt Romney, are aware that a great many people in their party, do harbor, let’s call it, discomfort, with the different-looking man who sits in the White House. Which is why there have been so many efforts from some on the right to question Obama’s “American-ness,” his religion, his belief in and loyalty to our country, and even his intelligence, which is what Trump is alluding to in his silly $5 million offer for the president to release his college transcripts and application.
The Republicans are not stupid in their appeals to the people that the AP survey indicated are out there who have negative feelings about brown skinned people. There is simply no way that the subtle racist codes being thrown out in the last week alone are not intended to get a rise out of those voters who harbor resentment or discomfort at that man in the White House who is one of those people.
John Sununu’s comment that Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama was due to them sharing skin color is one example. It meant that intelligence and reasoning couldn’t possibly be a factor. It also said that Powell wasn’t to be trusted because remember, he too is black. Sarah Palin’s “shuck and jive” comment was another thinly veiled harkening to the stereotype of the shiftless and lazy negro. And as I mentioned there was The Donald getting all kinds of attention by bringing up the none-too-subtle idea that President Obama would have never gotten into Harvard without affirmative action, which of course is another issue that brings up that anti-black and anti-Hispanic feeling in many on the Right.
How anyone can think all of these incidents are just pure coincidences is amazing to me. More telling is that in none of the cases did we hear Romney himself stand up and say such talk was not welcome on his behalf and in his name. Of course not. Romney will welcome any vote he can get, even if it means it comes as a result of appealing to the racists in his party. Which, according to one of its own members, includes a lot of people.
“My party is full of racists.”
That is what retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson said on Friday, a Republican and former chief of staff to Colin Powell. He added, “My party, unfortunately, is the bastion of those people — not all of them, but most of them — who are still basing their positions on race. Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that’s despicable.”
Well there you go.
What this mostly boils down to, why I think for those who are just plain going crazy seeing Obama in the White House, is that for the 51 percent types, that group that harbored negative feelings towards blacks, there is a strong sense that they are losing the America they fantasize about and expect it to be. They don’t like seeing so many people of color in places they didn’t expect, they don’t like seeing gays being so out in public and demanding equality, they didn’t expect to see women not asking for, but demanding equal pay, and still having the power of choice for themselves.There is just this overall sense that the America they envision in their heads is not the one we are and are becoming.
This to me explains all the posters and yard signs and phrases we hear along the lines of “We want our America back.” What they don’t get or don’t want to get, is that we are not ever going back to what we were. And that is a very good thing. Our country has come a long way to get to where we are as far as beginning to actually allow our multiculturalism to become more out there. We have come too far to go backwards on gender equality and women’s choices. Too far to ever want to be a nation that doesn’t give people a chance to love who they want and marry who they want. America is not going back. And even if Romney could win this election, it won’t change that. The genie is out of the bottle and won’t go back in.
The Republican Party has a lot of good people in it, people who are in it simply because they support the basic principles of small government, at least when it comes to government’s role in people’s lives. For those people, all the racist codes and attitudes that are coming from their party are not representative of them. But here is the thing. If you are a member of that party and you see this happening and do nothing or say nothing to call your own party out, then you are in essence standing with those idiots. I have always heard people on the Right try to call out all Muslims for not standing up to Islamic extremists, insinuating that they must agree or condone the actions of the extremists, proof being their silence. Well back at you. What does Romney’s silence mean? Or the silence of non-racist Republicans.
We may not be post-racial yet as a society, but what Barack Obama’s election four years ago symbolized can never be lost. No matter what those in the 51 percent who harbor negative views of blacks may think or feel, it was a message that America is moving forward. And the days of only seeing white men dominate our politics and discourse are not long. A lot of us, including many white Americans, who support this forward progress, know that we are far better off as a country because of who we all are. We all benefit from a much more diverse group of people running things and adding to the discussion. That is what the young lady at the University of Texas at Austin doesn’t get in her Supreme Court case where she is charging UT’s efforts to have a more diverse student body violates her rights as a white woman.
The world is diverse and we are only going to become more so. Those that don’t get that or accept that are going to become less and less relevant. And that is a very good thing.