Category Archives: Congressional legacy

Am I Gaga for Obama?


It may seem like I have some form of Obama mania, that I lo-ove him and everything about him, that I am unreasonably supportive of him, and that I have become such a fan that I am incapable of viewing Obama objectively. However, my support for Obama involves having his back in spite of his flaws because he seems to be a good person and because we happen to agree about what will keep America healthy and strong. I also back him because he is a symbol of our best traits in America. We are trying to be an inclusive nation as opposed to an exclusive one and Obama will forever stand as our first African-American president – even though that is not the focus of his Presidency.

I am not just using rhetoric when I say that the Republicans will not come off well in our history books. They are stuck with goo-gobs of reactionary nonsense that their base requires them to tout. Perhaps these particular elephants are headed towards extinction, or at least their current platform is looking like an anachronism that will drag them to the elephant graveyard, unless they can get on board with globalization and diversity.

Still these aging Republican and Democratic dinosaurs should be our best statesman. They have the chops that come from years of service and from traipsing around the globe, from weathering millions of meetings and negotiations, and they have the brain power that often comes from having been schooled in some of the best programs available in America (however out-of-date ). They may represent the last of a dying breed with access to the way our Democracy has stayed alive, who once experienced the give and take of two parties who want America to live on as a nation and also as an ideal. These career politicians should be teaching the next generation how to govern, teaching them to be statesmen and women; but instead they are teaching them to be stern and unbending, and to tolerate an undercurrent of animosity and hate will that could eventually undermine our nation and dilute our important role as a beacon of freedom and justice in a struggling world.

Instead of arriving at the original consensus which we now know as the GOP strategy  to obstruct Obama in every way, they could have gone out of their way to make our African-America first family feel welcome and they could have kept up the hospitality and spirit of cooperation that would have given them a legacy of generosity and benevolence. They could have wooed Obama even if they felt rebuffed by the “brothers” in the beginning. Realistically, even though they believe, as we are informed again and again, in small government they must have realized that the goal of small government cannot be achieved instantly. Government will have to get smaller, if that is what we all want, through a series of planned baby steps. Changes in governments that affect millions cannot be treated like a NASCAR race where we expect 0-110 mph in seconds. The Republicans have not chosen this expedient route. They have left it to Obama to come to them, hat in hand, which he cannot do. The Democrats have not been exactly hospitable either. You have all earned the legacy that you will find in your great grandchildren’s history books. Of course, it is just possible that by then they will not be reading about the Republican Party in the present tense at all.


Legacy – “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” (


We spend a lot of time talking about a President’s legacy because we hope it will remind whoever is the current President to accomplish great things, to avoid being corrupted by power, and to keep our democracy alive and healthy and as true to its Constitutional roots as possible.

But – the President is not the only one we will read about in history books and whose accomplishments will be researched on the web. Congress (the ones in 2008, 2010, and 2014) will also appear in our histories. These people, who we elected to represent us, will also have a legacy.

The Democrats have blown their legacy because they have concentrated more on worrying about re-election than productivity. The agenda we need to deal with is huge. Almost every aspect of our America could use some attention. We need jobs for everyone who is able to work. We need tax reform. We need to figure out ways to have a comprehensive social safety net without “breaking the bank”. We need to pay our debts and cut our deficits without scrapping all hope and progress. We need to figure out how to have our guns and be safe from those who use them for random violence and criminal activity. We must overhaul our educational practices, rebuild infrastructure and keep it up-to-date, and we must sort out what we want to do about illegal immigrants who are already here and about preventing illegal immigration in the future. We also need to be caretakers rather than plunderers of our planet. And we must keep an eye on other nations whose aggressive actions threaten world peace. This is an historic agenda, an agenda that only pops up in a pivotal age. And yet, Democrats spend too much of their time trying to decide whether they can afford to have Obama’s back or whether they need to keep their distance.
However, Republicans spend all their time in thin-skinned whining about their mistreatment at the hands of our President in order to distract us from the way they are mistreating the President. Our President, as far as I can tell, simply suggests agenda items and asks his Congress to write the laws that will help America progress. When they will not write the laws he tries to find ways to get something done without the Congress. The Republicans deliberately place obstacles in the path of this President (see the articles that follow) because I guess a) they don’t like him, b) they can’t agree with him c) they don’t trust him d) they don’t care that the American people approve of him e) they don’t trust the American people, and/or f) they refuse to do anything (except whine) unless the idea, bill, plan originates with Republicans. Because Obama is our first African-American President Congress will find even more attention than usual given to its legacy when future generations discuss Obama’s two terms in office.

We can already see what the legacy of Obama’s Congress will be in the history books and it won’t be pretty. The Democrats will come off as wimps, but the Republicans will come off as bigots and traitors. The policies Obama recommends are not all that outlandish. He outlines commonsense approaches and asks Congress to flesh them out. The Republicans stoke their anger, which is obvious to all of us, and keep it at white-hot strength. They have no mechanism for letting go of their anger and they find a billion little slights and details to feed it. It is poisoning America.

Today, February 18, 2013, someone leaked what is, supposedly, Obama’s plan for illegal immigrants. There is nothing extreme about this plan yet the buzz in Washington is that Republicans are irate. Obama has betrayed them again. They insist that Obama offer a plan and then they are insulted when he offers a plan. There is no way Obama can please these people. Just because Obama has set down an immigration plan does not mean that he is trumping the plan being designed by Congress in what is a rare bipartisan endeavor.

Too bad we can’t time travel so we could read about your legacy now, Congressmen and women. It might change your behavior since no one seems able to hear what the American people are telling you here in the present.


Here’s some backup for the points I have been making, and there are many more examples on the web:

Article 1:





I downloaded Michael Grunwald’s The New New Deal earlier this week, but I haven’t yet fired up the Kindle to start reading it. Greg Sargent, on the other hand, has found some tidbits already. One of which is confirmation of the Republican move to ensure exactly what the party’s shadow leader, Rush Limbaugh, started saying he wanted back in January 2009—Obama’s failure. Rush’s foot-soldiers enlisted in the cause.

Sargent points us to the relevant passage, page 207:

Biden says that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any cooperation on many votes. “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators, who said, `Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything,’ he recalls. His informants said [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell had demanded unified resistance. “The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’” Biden says.

The vice president says he hasn’t even told Obama who his sources were, but Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania both confirmed they had conversations with Biden along these lines.

Grunwald goes on to cite former Sen. George Voinovich:

“He wanted everyone to hold the fort. All he cared about was making sure Obama could never have a clean victory.”

And there was the insider:

“People were pretty demoralized, and there were two totally opposite thoughts on how to approach the situation,” a McConnell aide recalls. “One was, `we don’t like the president, we ought to pop him early.’ The other was, `he’s really popular, we should work with him, because that’s what people want us to do.’ The boss’s take was: Neither.” McConnell realized that it would be much easier to fight Obama if Republicans first made a public show of wanting to work with him.

Sargent cautions that Biden has been known to exaggerate. But Grunwald has a lot of corroborative evidence here. And there’s plenty of other evidence that this is not just loose talk. Republicans have thrown up blockades every step along the way since Jan. 21, 2009. From repairing the economy to protecting consumers against predatory financial institutions, from bolstering the nation’s clean energy infrastructure to cooperating on the federal budget, Republicans have stood in the way.

What they haven’t been able to stop outright, they’ve diluted. All focused on making the president fail. Even past Republican ideas were shot down. It hasn’t mattered to them how much damage their strategy caused to the country, to the American people. Everything was focused on undermining Barack Obama. Patriotism, modern GOP style.

And the fruits of their efforts? Barack Obama on the verge of becoming a two-term president.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM PDT.



Article 2:

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.”

The conversation got only more specific from there, Draper reports. Kyl suggested going after incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at the International Monetary Fund. Gingrich noted that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had a similar tax problem. McCarthy chimed in to declare “there’s a web” before arguing that Republicans could put pressure on any Democrat who accepted campaign money from Rangel to give it back.

The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:

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.

Article 3:

Republicans had it in for Obama before Day 1

I have long told President Obama’s most ardent supporters to read Charles Krauthammer. He’s a guaranteed angry read. But if you set aside his rhetorical rage and focus on the substance, Krauthammer does a good job of making the right’s case against the president. Think of him as Chris Christie to George Will’s Tim Pawlenty.

Today’s Krauthammer column is a fine example of what I’m talking about. The headline says it all. “The case against reelection.” In it, he argues that Obama’s presidency has been a failure and that Mitt Romney should make the “ideological” case rather than the “stewardship” case against him. “Obama’s ideology — and the program that followed — explains the failure of these four years.”

Thanks to a new book by Michael Grunwald, we know with certainty that what Krauthammer argues is a load of bunk. Republicans are complicit in the failures they rail against.

At first, we thought organized Republican recalcitrance against the president started in October 2010 after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) famously said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Then came Robert Draper’s book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives,” this spring. As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported in April, the book reports on a dinner of leading Republicans held the night of Obama’s inauguration.

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 [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy [R-Calif.] as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

And Stein highlights this useful passage from Draper’s book:

The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:

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.

Now Greg Sargent at The Plum Line is sounding the alarm over a revelation in “The New New Deal” by Grunwald. Vice President Joe Biden told the author that during the transition, “seven different Republican Senators” told him that “McConnell had demanded unified resistance.” This was after the 2008 election but before Obama and Biden took office.

“The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’ ” Biden says.

Nevermind the nation was falling off the fiscal cliff. Nevermind the global economic system was hanging in the balance. Nevermind we were on the verge of another Great Depression. When the nation needed single-minded focus, the Republican political establishment put power over the national interest.

So, the next time you hear Republicans and conservatives bloviating about the “failures” of the Obama presidency, remember the role they played in them. And remember how their resistance hurt the country they are elected to help govern.

By Jonathan Capehart | 04:07 PM ET, 08/10/2012

Article 4:

Republican Racism Will Make Party Obsolete

Posted: 10/29/2012 2:32 pm

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.