Monday, February 01, 2010

Again, the contrast in stature

Cantor:  "Are you sure this was a good idea boss?"
Boehner:  "Shut up, you schmuck!"

Even with all evidence indicating that it makes not a whit of difference which party is in control of the various levers of government (health care debate, anyone? how about the Supreme Court ruling for the plutocracy? or the escalation in Afghanistan?) it is nonetheless highly entertaining to see Republicans summarily put in their place.  Especially when the humiliation is handed to them, calmly and rationally, by a man whom they have subjected to their most degrading and shrill attacks.

Last Friday, President Obama attended a meeting of the House Republican Caucus where he made remarks and then fielded questions from House Republicans.  (You can watch a video of the event here.) As one House Republican later admitted to Luke Russert, "It was a mistake that we allowed the cameras to roll like that.  We should not have done that."  Hmm... you think?

(And can anyone imagine Junior taking questions from the Democratic caucus when he was squatting in the Oval Office?  As we saw from his performances in various presidential debates and press conferences, his puny intellect was quickly overwhelmed by aggressive questioning, causing him to lash out in petulant anger.)

In his remarks, President Obama, it seemed to me, did a good job of putting the Republicans on the defensive.  The general gist of those remarks was that Republicans, with their ugly, demonizing rhetoric, have made it nearly impossible to reach across party lines.

I can't imagine that the President is suffering under the illusion that this gesture will cause the Republican caucus to suddenly see reason and begin honest negotiations with Democrats in crafting legislation.  Republicans have no incentive to do so.  Rather, this was a brilliant political move, designed to point up the contrast in stature between an intelligent, rational executive and a shrill, bigoted extremist party.

A caller to the Norman Goldman radio show on Friday night said it best when he told Mr. Goldman, "No one knows mealy-mouthed antagonism like a Harvard-educated black man." 

That perceptive and prima facie observation was clearly demonstrated by the President when he calmly fielded provocative and accusatory questions from some of the most offensive members of that reactionary body, and responded to them with cool-headed recitation of facts.  President Obama has surely been dealing with people like this all his life.

Nice move, Mr. President!

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

I am more hopeful than you. I take him at his word that he would like a more reasoned and civil atmosphere in Washington, any rational person who cares about the people in the USA would want that. While he may not have high expectations if someone doesn't try to improve things they cannot be improved.

The way to improve the situation is for intelligent people to sincerely try to make it better. Things have improved in the USA, and the way they improve is that the population of this democracy change their mind. At the moment people are electing those who are obstructionist (in both parties) and Obama is trying to convince people to try something new.

Future elections are going to be decided by which side the American people prefer, those who want to reform the economy, health care, and the manner of politics, or those who obstruct all these policies. Progressives versus Conservatives. The lessons of history show that the progressives always win in the end, but always much slower than they would like.