A Lesson in Politics and Power

Unless you’ve been too busy looking for a job to notice, things are kind of upside down in Washington. President Obama and the Senate Democrats, who kicked the GOP’s posterior last November are skulking around like losers, cutting billions from an already inadequate stimulus package in the hope of securing Republican votes they don’t need.

The Republicans, who should be wearing sack cloth and ashes, have, under the guidance of the party’s de-facto leader, the great prevaricator Rush Limbaugh, seized control of the stimulus agenda and are eroding the public’s support for the president they loved just moments ago.

In order to restore the balance of the universe, I’d like to get everyone together in a huge classroom-the President, Democrats, Republicans, the media, and the public-and give them a reality check in the form of a vocabulary lesson.

Here’s how it might go:

Good morning, class. May I have your attention please?

Class?

Claaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!  Tom Daschle and all you autoworkers, please stop scanning the help wanted section for a moment and pay attention..

Thank you.

We are going to begin with a vocabulary lesson.  While these words are not directly related to economics, they are definitely related to the fate of President Obama’s economic stimulus package, so we must become familiar with their true meaning.

The first word is “bipartisan.”  Repeat after me: “bipartisan.”  It means “Of, consisting of, or supported by members of two parties, especially two major political parties.”

Now I will use the word in a sentence.  “President Obama was foolish enough to believe that the Republicans would put the future of the country first and engage in truly bipartisan talks to develop a stimulus package that would help the working class.”

Our next word is “consensus.”  Repeat after me: “consensus.”  It means “general agreement or concord; harmony.”

Here’s a sentence using the word consensus: “It is impossible to reach consensus with a group of disgruntled ideologues who, in their heart of hearts, want you to fall flat on your liberal-commie face.”

Our next word is “mandate.”  Say it with me, “mandate.”  No, little Sean Hannity, it does not mean a bunch of guys going to Hooters to watch extreme fighting and pound down shooters and beers.  And please, when I want to hear from you I’ll call on you.

Now, let’s get back on task.  Mandate means “a command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue given by the electorate to its representative.”

Here it is in a sentence: “Americans, including the millions of working-class voters who put their faith and trust in him, did not give Barrack Obama a mandate so he could roll over for a bunch of moronic Republicans.  They gave him a mandate so he could roll over them and their failed policies.”

Our last word is “leadership.”  Repeat it, “leadership” — “the quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.”

I’ve come up with this sentence using the word leadership: “If President Obama had demonstrated the lack of leadership that’s been on display since he took office when he was candidate Obama, we’d all be talking about President Hillary Clinton’s stimulus plan.”

That’s it, but there will  be a quiz in 2010 and a final exam in 2012.

Like many others in the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, I take no pleasure in acknowledging that the President and his team are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people when it comes to revitalizing the economy.  Especially since they’re losing it to a corps of cynics led by Limbaugh who, when asked by Hannity if he wanted Obama to succeed said:

“No! I want him to fail.” If his agenda is a far-left collectivism — some people say socialism — as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?

And yet, knowing that the people with whom he is negotiating want him to go down in flames, the President and his allies are still chopping billions from a stimulus package that economic experts including Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman say is already too small to accomplish the goal of creating good-paying jobs for millions of working-class Americans.

Why?  Because the President and Democratic leaders have decided that it’s more important to get Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to vote for a watered down package then it is to battle the GOP, exercise the mandate they’ve been given, and pass a package that will spur a recovery.

What should the President do?  As Krugman and others suggest, he should beef up infrastructure spending by about $200 billion, initiate health care reform, tell Americans why his plan is in their best interest, and, like the voters, tell the Republicans to go to hell.

Better yet, he should grab one of the 100 cigarettes John Boehner smokes every day out of his mouth and grind it out on his forehead. Then he should walk over to the Senate and poke career obstructionist Mitch McConnell in the eyes-the way Moe from the Three Stooges used to do when he was mad at Curly.

Then he should pass the stimulus package we need and have the courage to say: “I’ve just done the right thing and I am willing to be judged for it.”

He must do this now because, as Ron Todd, the late leader of the British equivalent of the UAW once said, “You don’t have power if you surrender all your principles-you have office.”  After eight years of abuse and neglect at the hands of a president who couldn’t spell “principle” the last thing we need at this difficult time in our history is a man who can do little more than sit in the Oval Office.  Clearly this is not the time for our President to run up the white flag.  It is time for him to fight.

Leo Jennings

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One response to “A Lesson in Politics and Power

  1. I liked the format here for presenting the arguments, Leo.

    Krugman’s Sunday column “The Destructive Center” was brutal, too, in its assessment of how the stimulus package was created and (not) nurtured.

    Obama stumbled a few times in the election, only to pick himself up again, stronger. We’ll see if he’s able to learn from this painful lesson and bring the next bill through with greater success (and bipartisanship).

    Like

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