The unanimous complaint from the left side of the political spectrum is that President Barack Obama is in difficulty because the Republicans are not supporting him.
No one seems to notice that Democrats hold the presidency, have an unbreakable majority in the House of Representatives, and even maintain a working 60 percent majority in the Senate (with three reliable GOP votes) to override filibusters. Democrats have passed trillion dollar stimulus programs, overhauled the entire health care system, boasted of the largest reform of the financial system since the 1930s Depression, and are on the verge of an historic environmental and energy control plan.
President Obama has appointed two justices to the Supreme Court, has moved the “independent” regulatory agencies decidedly to the left, has re-staffed the entire Executive Branch with ideologically compatible administrators, and received across-the-board support from the mainline media. He has taken control of the largest automaker, the largest insurance company and many banks. What more could possibly have been accomplished in a mere 20 months in power?
In spite of all this, a “frustrated”– according to the nonpartisan blog “Politico” – President complained in his recent weekly radio address that “Republican leaders in Washington just do not get it” and were “using their power to hold this relief hostage” for political reasons. Indeed, every policy delay has been blamed by the media on the GOP and columnists like the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. and The Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Frank have created a small industry blaming the poor Republicans, as if they had the power to stop anything. In fact, almost all of the president’s proposals have been delayed by nervous Democrats.
Most recently, it was fear of intense reaction to the nomination of Donald Berwick as director of Medicare and Medicaid – because his previous support of an 8% limit on national health spending would imply serious cuts in benefits – that forced the president to use a “recess appointment” to end-run a worried Democratic Senate. The same week in responding to constituent complaints, Democratic Senators Mark Begich, Ben Nelson, Jeanne Shaheen and Evan Bayh asked the Internal Revenue Service to ignore an Obama health reform provision requiring IRS to track individuals and small business to assure they have health insurance and collecting penalties if they do not. The Senators did not mention that they had voted for the provisions. When President Obama announced a ban on deep water oil drilling, he was attacked by Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and by several Democratic House members in the Gulf region.
But this Democratic reaction to the Obama Administration was nothing compared to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who “excoriated” (the Post’s description) White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for conceding the obvious that the Democrats were suffering politically in spite of their accomplishments and their majority in the House could be in doubt come the November elections unless “strong campaigns” were run by Democrats. When informed of Gibbs’ statement, Ways and Means Committee Democrat Bill Pascrell exploded: “What the hell do they think we’ve been doing the last 12 months? We’re the ones who have been taking the tough votes. What they [in the White House] have wanted to do is to separate themselves from us.”
Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards was more blunt. “The Democrats have over-reached and that’s one reason why there are so many races in play.” One anonymous Democrat told the Post that House members were treated like “Mickey” in the commercial where the youngest child is tricked into eating the cereal. “There’s a sense that is the White House’s attitude toward us. And now Mickey ate it and is choking on it and there’s no appreciation.”
Why all of this criticism of the president from Democrats? After all the “tough votes” and “overreaching” it appears that the people did not appreciate what the Democrats had done for them; the ingrates. Still, the left keeps blaming Republicans. This is very understandable because it is psychologically impossible to face up to the fact that progressives have adopted their entire agenda and it has been rejected. From the very beginning progressivism was based on the belief that society could be reformed only if Americans let the government “experts” have the power to make everything right. For the first time, progressives had the power and used it but the people opposed the results.
That is why the president can get so worked up when anyone opposes him since he insists, we “really all agree on common goals.” Since he has nice goals in mind and the “experts” have spoken, who could disagree without having bad motives? Anyone who opposes the experts’ solution is holding up progress. Anyone thinking an alternative solution would be better, or does not think 183 new agencies will be able to make coherent health decisions, or are concerned that their freedom might be limited is at best a spoilsport or, more likely, affiliated with some “special interest” holding up “needed action.”
Americans have been cautioned about this manner of thinking before. The “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, warned against those who think all people can or should have “the same opinions, the same passions, the same interests.” This type of belief, he believed, was simply utopian, “impractical.” People naturally differ. The only way all could agree would be to force agreement by eliminating freedom and the resulting diversity that arises naturally from it. Rather, Madison argued, the very “first object” of government should be to protect against attempts to suppress differences and freedom.
To the progressive – and President Obama is archetypal – it really seems an act of disloyalty to disagree with him when the experts have the one true solution to the problem of the day. But the president should throw off his blinders and see all the dissenting fellow Democrats. Unfortunately for him, it is not just or even primarily Republicans. The voters simply do not like what he is doing. In fact as Congressman Edwards recognized, they are “choking” on his progressivism and are desperately seeking another way. The progressives were given all power and used it but – as Tolkien’s ring trilogy warns – power is dangerous and might just destroy the force that invoked it.
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