Obama’s Two Choices: Good and Better
President Barack Obama must like the view from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now. Politically speaking, the sky is clear, and the few clouds on the horizon have silver linings.
Because where things now stand with Congress, if he wins – he wins. And if he loses – he wins.
Getting Republicans to bend to his will on any of the banner issues this year – whether immigration reform, gun control or deficit reduction – will help enshrine him as a president of real achievement. If he fails, however, these same issues can be used as bludgeons to pound Republicans as heartless, even racist, knuckle-draggers who only want to service their rich masters.
In many respects, Obama has, in fact, failed. The economy remains a basket case, with unemployment still near 8 percent. In foreign policy, Iran is getting closer every day to the bomb; China is spreading its wings over U.S. allies, and the Middle East is in chaos.
But presidents are generally remembered for achieving one or two Big Things ‑ and Obama has risen to that standard. Obamacare, for better or worse – I say for worse – will reshape the delivery of healthcare in the United States. It may change forever the relationship of government to the people, with an even wider assumption that Washington has the right to control our destinies. This is, as Vice President Joe Biden noted, a big … deal.
Obama has also precipitously withdrawn U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, recasting the United States as a far more restrained player in world affairs.
If the president can add immigration reform and changes in gun law to his portfolio, while substantially increasing the progressivity of the tax code, he will go down in history as the transformative president he hoped to be.
But even if he fails to pass his agenda this year, just think of the possibilities for demonizing his opposition! Obama can perhaps shred the already tattered GOP brand so much more that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will have a solid chance of seizing the gavel from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2014.
Obama spent his 2012 re-election campaign putting the hapless Republican nominee Mitt Romney on the operating table and turning him into a political Frankenstein. Romney, as remade by Obama, didn’t care a whit about half the country – 47 percent, to be exact. He wanted to re-enslave African-Americas (Biden’s contribution) and realize the fondest dreams of the nation’s wealthiest 1 percent. He would do all this while waging a “war on women” and playing a role in outsourcing every other U.S. job to India.
Obama signaled that he has every intention of continuing to lob his ad hominen fusillades when he told Al Sharpton during a radio interview last week that Republicans would rather sink the nation into despair than abandon their love affair with the rich.
“My sense,” Obama said, talking about the GOP position on the sequester, “is that their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, and they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes. And that’s the thing that binds their party together at this point.”
So Republicans would rather see the country sink into sequester-induced Hades than harm one hair on the heads of their rich friends? Really?
One can be sure, once the sequester takes hold, that every teacher, fireman and police officer who has lost a job – along with anyone whose ambulance didn’t arrive in time or whose flight was delayed more than 15 minutes – will be paraded through the East Room so that all might know only cold hearts beat in Republicans’ breasts.
If significant gun control measures aren’t passed, the president will be seen shaking his head in pity for the rising death toll that Republicans refused to prevent – just so they could please their masters in the National Rifle Association.
The most unpleasant possibilities surround the immigration bill. The White House has already shown it is willing to inject race into political campaigns.
Biden’s suggestion that Republicans want a return to slavery is only the most egregious example. Obama, during the 2010 campaign, charged Republicans were “counting on … black folks staying home” and advised Latinos to head to the polls and “punish” their “enemies.”
Biden, meanwhile compared Republicans to the anti-Catholic and xenophobic Know Nothing Party of the 1850s. Michelle Obama suggested those who support voter ID laws are trying to make African-Americans “feel unwelcome in the voting booth.” She also argued that what was at stake in the 2012 election was the right of “every child” to get to the top “no matter what she looks like.”
Once the GOP favorability rating has fallen below that of the Taliban, Democrats will be poised to seize Congress. Then, Obama may well get his legislation passed – with the added bonus of having politically disemboweled his enemy.
Resistance by the GOP isn’t futile. More Americans still consider themselves more conservative than liberal. But if Republicans can’t find something to pull them together and out of their current fractious state, they may not pose effective opposition until they settle on a single messenger – and message – in 2016.
But by then they’ll be confronting another Frankenstein from Obama’s laboratory: Liberal policies so firmly ensconced that they may take a generation to reverse – if ever.
PHOTO (Top) President Barack Obama speaks to the National Governors Association at the White House in Washington, February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
PHOTO (Insert Middle): President Barack Obama walks through the colonnade of the White House in Washington, February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
PHOTO (Insert Bottom): Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, November 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young