That Republicans pretend history started the day Barack Obama was sworn in as president is nothing new. Their entire platform for the last three years has been based on denouncing the deficit they created while blaming Obama for it. And it mostly worked. The 2010 election was a referendum on the government’s out of control spending. Specifically, the spending done by the GOP. But that didn’t matter to conservative voters. It was all Obama’s fault and that was that.
Never one to let a successful tactic go, the Chief Obstructionist in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has recently taken to making the wild claim that not only did President Obama have a fully compliant Congress for two years but that they rubber stamped everything he asked for. TPM reports:
The White House has “been trying to pretend like the President just showed up yesterday, just got sworn in and started fresh,” McConnell declared Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “In fact, he’s been in office for three years. He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years… We are living in the Obama economy.”
That’s a most…interesting interpretation of the last three years. Let’s take a closer look at that:
The 111th would the “rubber stamping” Congress McConnell is referring to. That almost, but not quite, record breaking amount of filibusters would be, what, exactly? Bills that Obama didn’t want passed? In reality, Obama only had a full sixty votes for eight months of the 111th Congress. Between Al Franken’s victory being contested as a means of denying Democrats the key sixtieth seat and Scott Brown winning Ted Kennedy’s seat due to a sloppy and lazy campaign run by Martha Coakle, there was a filibuster proof majority for only a short time. Al Franken was sworn in July 7, 2009 while Scott Brown was sworn in February 4, 2010. Eight months. You’d be surprised how many people, including liberals (especially liberals), can’t do the basic math involved.
But even during those eight months, when the GOP was helpless before the monolithic juggernaut of liberalism, Obama still didn’t get everything he wanted. Why? Because of Joe Lieberman and the blue dog Democrats. I don’t necessarily blame the blue dogs. They’re Democratic Senators in traditionally Red states and if they’re doing their job correctly, they will reflect the values of their constituency. Of course, every now and then you just have to vote for what’s right regardless of what kind of propaganda Fox has been feeding your voters. Lieberman, on the other hand, threatened to join the Republicans in filibustering his own party which is unheard of. Why he has been allowed to retain his place in the caucus is a mystery to me. I would have kicked him out in a heartbeat and stripped him of his committee chairmanship. Even more so after the mid term elections when he became unnecessary. But that’s just me. Then again, he campaigned for John McCain so he should have been banished long before the health care debate in the first place.
Whatever the case may be, only a simpleton would believe McConnell’s whopper of a tale of Obama getting “everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years.” It didn’t happen. Further, Obama didn’t even try to make that happen. Much to the annoyance of the firebagger left, Obama did not act like an emperor but more like a community organizer. He sought to build consensus and was open (a little too open, perhaps) to compromise. Which is exactly what he campaigned on. Instead of working with the president and the majority party, the GOP decided that they would take the unprecedented step of forcing a 60 vote requirement for almost every piece of legislation and certainly all major pieces. The minority party took the country hostage. How this translates into a “fully compliant Congress” is unclear.
One quick note on Obama’s critics on the Left who insist he rule by executive order or simply run roughshod over the GOP: First, executive orders can be overturned by the next president. for instance, ending DADT by executive order means it can be reinstated by executive order. Having it overturned by Congress means it has to be passed again from scratch. Good luck with that. So which is the more permanent solution? Second, we spent years complaining, and legitimately so, that Bush ran the country like a king. Why in the world would we want to do the same? The ends do not justify the means. That is not to say that we shouldn’t hold Obama accountable for capitulating to the GOP when he could have fought harder, but do it like adults and not by stamping your feet and holding your breath (or withholding your vote). That helps no one but the GOP.
Which brings us back to Mitch McConnell and his latest Big Lie. The closer we get to the election, the more you will hear this particular line of bullshit. It is of paramount importance to the GOP election strategy that not only the economy not improve (or, by the grace of Republican Jesus™, get worse) but that Obama be fully responsible with no input from the Republican Party at all. In keeping with their victim-hood meme, they need to act as if they were helpless bystanders, powerless to stop the misguided policies of a socialist president bent on destroying Capitalism, Mom and Apple Pie.
We have eight months to counter this kind of garbage but shouting the truth from the rooftops. The GOP is the party of No Ideas, No Solutions and No Compromise. And that’s a lack of change you can believe in.
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