Thursday, December 02, 2010

Perhaps Neville Obama Should Be Talking Reconciliation Instead Of Caving In To The Beast

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You know the famous 1938 "Peace For Our Time" tableau of Conservative British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returning from a meeting with Germany's right-wing populist, Adolph Hitler? That was on September 30 and Chamberlain made a speech about his successful talks with the Germans:
"My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds."

The following day, October 1, German troops flooded into Czechoslovakia, occupied the Sudetenland as a prelude to devouring the entire country and subjecting it to a brutal, racist colonization.

After meeting with the Republican leadership on Tuesday, conservative President Barack Obama issued a press statement that included similar delusional optimism about a deadly and ruthless enemy that is no less determined to destroy democracy than Hitler was:
I just wrapped up a meeting with leaders from both parties. It was our first chance to get together face to face since the election to talk about how we can best work together to move the country forward.

It’s no secret that we have had differences that have led us to part ways on many issues in the past. But we are Americans first, and we share a responsibility for the stewardship of our nation. The American people did not vote for gridlock. They didn’t vote for unyielding partisanship. They’re demanding cooperation and they’re demanding progress. And they’ll hold all of us-- and I mean all of us-- accountable for it. And I was very encouraged by the fact that there was broad recognition of that fact in the room.

I just want to say I thought it was a productive meeting. I thought that people came to it with a spirit of trying to work together. And I think it’s a good start as we move forward.

I think everybody understands that the American people want us to focus on their jobs, not ours. They want us to come together around strategies to accelerate the recovery and get Americans back to work. They want us to confront the long-term deficits that cloud our future. They want us to focus on their safety and security, and not allow matters of urgent importance to become locked up in the politics of Washington.

So today we had the beginning of a new dialogue that I hope-- and I’m sure most Americans hope-- will help break through the noise and produce real gains. And, as we all agreed, that should begin today because there’s some things we need to get done in the weeks before Congress leaves town for the holidays.

The following day, as ritually enraged as ever, the Republicans responded with what Andrew Sullivan termed their scorched earth policy,a threat to block everything that comes before Congress until their millionaire and billionaire supporters are given tax cuts that will devastate the middle class for years.
What we've observed these past two years is a political party that knows nothing but scorched earth tactics, cannot begin to see any merits in the other party's arguments, refuses to compromise one inch on anything, and has sought from the very beginning to do nothing but destroy the Obama presidency. I see no other coherent message or strategy since 2008. Just opposition to everything, zero support for a president grappling with a recession their own party did much to precipitate, and facing a fiscal crisis the GOP alone made far worse with their spending in the Bush-Cheney years. There is not a scintilla of responsibility for their past; not a sliver of good will for a duly elected president. Worse, figures like Cantor and McCain actively seek to back foreign governments against the duly elected president of their own country, and seek to repeal the signature policy achievement of Obama's first two years, universal healthcare.

I know it is the opposition's role to oppose. But the sheer scale and absolutism of the opposition, and its continuation in the lame duck session, even over such small but integral reforms such as the new START and DADT repeal, is remarkable.

The two parties are evenly spread in this 50-50 country, but only one can brook no compromise in its accelerating rush to the far right. And that is what it seems we have to contemplate for the next two years - total paralysis in the face of urgent problems as part of a game of cynical partisan brinkmanship. They simply cannot bear that another party might actually have a role to play in government.

This is not conservatism, properly understood, a disposition that respects the institutions and traditions of government, that can give as well as take, that seeks the national interest before partisan concerns, and that respects both the other branches of government and seeks to work with them. These people are not conservatives in this core civilized sense; they are partisan vandals.

Steve Benen, writing in the Washington Monthly summed up what everyone-- save perhaps Obama himself-- was seeing: "In practical terms, this means that the Senate Republican caucus will join arms and kill literally every piece of legislation in the lame-duck session-- New START, funding U.S. troops, the DREAM Act, etc.-- until the government is fully funded and they're satisfied with the outcome of the debate on tax policy."

Although Debbie Stabbenow bravely told Rachel Maddow that Democrats are ready to fight, even if it means letting all the Bush tax cuts expire, no one thinks the Democrats in the Senate have the balls to follow through-- or even necessarily the inclination. If they were they would simply pass the middle class tax cuts through reconciliation with a 51 vote majority and wouldn't even have to kiss up to reactionaries like Ben Nelson, the two Walton Family-owned Arkansans or the insidious Mainers.



The threat of reconciliation is what should have been front and center in all the newspapers today. It's what Limbaugh and Hannity and Herr Beck should have all been talking about, rending their hair and tearing their clothes. Instead, as usual, the rightists were setting the messaging tone which had the Democrats-- who control the Presidency, the Senate and the House, on the defensive and hiding under their desks while the Republican minorities go on a rampage. Sickening.
Not even 24 hours after President Obama met with senior Republican Congressional leaders and expressed hopes for a “new dialogue,” renewed partisan fury engulfed the Senate on Wednesday, as Republicans threatened to block any legislation until a deal is reached to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, potentially derailing the Democrats’ busy end-of-year agenda.

The blunt threat was made in a letter to the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and signed by all 42 Senate Republicans. And it was reiterated by the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in a speech in which he accused Democratic leaders and Mr. Obama of ignoring the midterm election results.

The move put Democrats in a vise and sharply heightened tensions on Capitol Hill, where administration officials and senior lawmakers from both the House and Senate opened the first round of talks in hopes of reaching an accord on the expiring tax cuts. Officials reported no progress in those talks, and the Senate Republicans’ threat suggested they had little appetite for compromise.

If Congress does not act by the end of the year, the lower rates expire for everyone, an outcome neither side wants.

The Republican maneuver came just as Senate Democrats seemed within reach of the votes needed to authorize repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members. The Republican blockade stalls debate on the military policy bill containing the repeal language, and it casts a long shadow over numerous bills awaiting action in Congress, including efforts to extend jobless benefits for millions of Americans about to lose them.

It also complicates the chances of ratification of the New Start arms treaty with Russia that is a major priority for the White House, and it could prevent Mr. Reid from fulfilling a major promise of his re-election campaign, to try again to pass a bill that would create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

“For the past two years, Democrat leaders in Washington have spent virtually all their time ticking off items on the liberal wish list while they’ve had the chance,” Mr. McConnell said. “Here we are, just a few weeks left in the session, and they’re still at it. Last month, the American people issued their verdict on the Democrats’ priorities. Democrats have responded by doubling down.”

Mr. McConnell’s announcement of an all-out blockade came just a day after he applauded Senator Christopher R. Dodd, the retiring Connecticut Democrat, for a farewell address in which Mr. Dodd called for greater civility and cooperation among lawmakers. His announcement drew howls of anger from Democrats who said it was just the latest evidence of Republican obstructionism.

To emphasize their point, Democrats went to the floor and attempted to bring up numerous bills, including a measure to extend jobless benefits and a measure to promote clean energy. On behalf of his colleagues, Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, repeatedly voiced objections, blocking the bills and prompting a furious speech by Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri.

“If anybody’s been paying attention, they would understand that our friends across the aisle have been blocking everything, including motherhood and apple pie for the last year,” Ms. McCaskill said. She derided Mr. Barrasso for accusing the Democrats of engaging in theater. “Theater is having 42 senators say we will not participate unless you do what we want to do today,” she said. “That’s theater.”

Ms. McCaskill added, “What you are seeing on this side right now is a healthy dose of indignation on behalf of the American people that are hurting.”

And this is the kind of psychosis dominating the debate on the far right, as mass e-mails like this flood the carefully built up propaganda lists:

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5 Comments:

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Susie Madrak said...

Once you understand that Obama is really a Republican, it all begins to make more sense.

 
At 11:31 AM, Anonymous me said...

Fuck Obama.

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Taylor Wray said...

This is exactly what America voted for this year - more Congressional deadlock. What the hell did we think was going to happen after we basically cut off the Democrats at the knees? Did we think progress would suddenly be sped up?

Republicans have forgotten all but one word in the English language: NO. That is their only response...to EVERYTHING. Thus, Congress will not be doing ANYTHING for the next two years. Get used to it.

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous me said...

Taylor, you couldn't be more wrong. Lots will get accomplished as a result of the election.

First of course, and by far most important, taxes will be cut for billionaires and corporations. You can bank on that. Obama will sign it.

Social Security benefits will be cut. That's also a given. Obama will sign that too.

All of Social Security will be phased out. They will CLAIM that the changes will take place over 40 years, but the reality is that once the cuts sink in to the nation's psyche, current payers will demand an end to SS taxes. The program will be dead - the long-held dream of conservatives - within 15 years.

And that's just the beginning! We have become the biggest, most wasteful banana republic in history.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger Bulworth said...

That email from Teabag Nation makes it sound like the teabaggers are really just Republican shills. But that can't be right. Our Liberal Media sez they're good old fashioned non-bi-partisan Murican people upset about the economy and taxes and stuff.

 

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