Another Sunday, another “politic’s day” for me, another “sport’s day” for others. I spent my Sunday morning and part of my afternoon with CNN and Meet the Press. I watched Candy Crowley and David Gregory and the Reliable Sources guy, Howard Kurtz, and Fareed Zakaria as they interviewed Democrats, Republicans, Senators, committee chairs, Speakers of the House or Senate, world leaders, economists and other political geeks. They love to interview controversial figures from either party and get our emotional juices flowing by discussing areas where disagreement is the greatest. Of course, Washington is too easy right now because every topic is controversial and the two parties don’t agree about anything. This particular Sunday comes right before the President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 12th, so guests are asked to conjecture about the content of the President’s speech.
Usually there is one opposing view offered after the State of the Union speech. This year Marco Rubio was picked to respond to the President, but apparently, the Republicans feel he is too moderate so there will be a tea party response by Rand Paul also. Yay, us.
There seemed to be consensus that Obama needs to talk about jobs and the economy. There was no agreement about what he should do about these issues. Republicans insist that Obama needs to cut, cut, cut, even though the outcomes of austerity in Europe do not back them up and many economists disagree with this approach. They are done, they say, with raising revenues and will not even consider tax reform until budget cuts happen. They insist that the federal budget is like our household budget which it clearly is not. They insist that they have already written the bills that will fix the economy and that they are just waiting for Obama to come to them and bow before them and give them his blessing to unleash their brand of economic pain on middle class America. They talk about the solutions “they” have handed down to America, and by “they” it is clear that this work is a product of the GOP and is in no way bipartisan. They want Obama to do things the old way and glad hand his way into the hearts of our Congressional representatives and senators. They are extremely unhappy that Obama is still taking his case to the American people. So the GOP not only wants their policies but it wants the President to do business their way. Been there, done that. Obama spent four years doing that. Republicans have not changed at all; they have not mellowed. Obama has no reason to believe that he will be treated with any more respect from the Republicans than he encountered last time around. He is exactly right to carry on with taking his case to the people. He is not pursuing his own agenda; he is pursuing the agenda of the American people.
Republicans sounded, for a tiny unit of time, as if they would love to help reach some bipartisan agreement about immigration and gun control. It is amazing to see how quickly they backed off from this promising position when the details began to come under discussion. I do not think that Republicans intend to pass any policy except the ones they come up with themselves. I believe that, whether or not Obama’s strategies antagonize the Republicans, they are the only effective strategies he has and that they are exactly the right strategies for this moment in time. I am looking forward to Obama’s State of the Union address and I wish I was also looking forward to a true partnership between all of our politicians to keep the American economy moving in the right direction, to stop telling us that they will not do the people’s business because the people are wrong. I was looking to them to help solve our immigration and violence issues also. Alas, I can see that this is not to be. However happy the GOP is to offer us new semantics, they are as married to their extreme politics as ever.
*The image of the President on Meet the Press is not from this past Sunday. It is from a series of historical photos on the official Meet the Press web sit. Many of these images are in black and white and many of them have a certain poignancy.