As I’ve noted in some other posts here — to use a now trite phrase — it is “deja vu all over again.” Yes, we are now seemingly returning to 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn into office and Republicans soon dug in their heels in a seeming effort to check mate as many of his proposals as possible. And the New York Times attributes it this time to: bitterness over their loss to Obama:
Though it has been 45 days since voters emphatically reaffirmed their faith in Mr. Obama, the time since then has shown the president’s power to be severely constrained by a Republican opposition that is bitter about its losses, unmoved by Mr. Obama’s victory and unwilling to compromise on social policy, economics or foreign affairs.
“The stars are all aligning the wrong way in terms of working together,” said Peter Wehner, a former top White House aide to President George W. Bush. “Right now, the political system is not up to the moment and the challenges that we face.”
House Republicans argue that voters handed their members a mandate as well, granting the party control of the House for another two years and with it the right to stick to their own views, even when they clash strongly with the president’s.
And many Republicans remember well when the tables were turned. After Mr. Bush’s re-election in 2004, Democrats eagerly thwarted his push for privatization of Social Security, hobbling Mr. Bush’s domestic agenda in the first year of his second term.
New polls suggest that Mr. Obama’s popularity has surged to its highest point since he announced the killing of Osama bin Laden. In the latest CBS News survey, the president’s job approval rating was at 57 percent.
But taken together, events suggest that even that improvement in the polls has done little to deliver the president the kind of clear authority to enact his policies that voters seemed to say they wanted during the election.
Even some of the president’s closest advisers said they were surprised by the
ferocity of the Republican opposition.
“It’s kind of a stunning thing to watch the way this has unfolded, at least to date,” said David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s longtime advisers. “The question is, how do you break free from these strident voices?”
That’s Obama’s dilemma.
He can try to appeal to the more reasonable members of the GOP who don’t consider compromise a filthy word and consensus oh, so, 20th century. Or he can use his study of past Presidents and decide he can’t get compromise and battle for his proposals to the hilt, use the bully pulpit, go out on the hustings and help along what is occurring seemingly with each week: the continued marginalization of the Republican Party.
Yours truly isn’t the only one who has noted how the party seems determined to limit its tent and offend those considering going into its tent. Here’s just part of what Andrew Sullivan writes:
Between the humiliating and chaotic collapse of Speaker Boehner’s already ludicrously extreme Plan B and Wayne La Pierre’s deranged proposal to put government agents in schools with guns, the Republican slide into total epistemic closure and political marginalization has now become a free-fall. This party, not to mince words, is unfit for government. ……
But the current constitutional and economic vandalism removes any shred of doubt that this party and its lucrative media bubble is in any way conservative. They aren’t. They’re ideological zealots, indifferent to the consequences of their actions, contemptuous of the very to-and-fro essential for the American system to work, gerry-mandering to thwart the popular will, filibustering in a way that all but wrecks the core mechanics of American democracy, and now willing to acquiesce to the biggest tax increase imaginable because they cannot even accept Obama’s compromise from his clear campaign promise to raise rates for those earning over $250,000 to $400,000 a year.
And this is not the exception. It is the rule…
But the current irony is that no one has managed to expose their extremism more clearly than their own Speaker. His career is over. As is the current Republican party. We need a new governing coalition in the House – Democrats and those few sane Republicans willing to put country before ideology. But even that may be impossible.
Which is Obama’s dilemma.
Does he a)accept the way things are b)try to compromise even more c)decide to battle it full throttle using his election and opinion poll clout and make GOPers seemingly bitter over his victory and ready to say “NO!” at every turn defend their consequences in 2013?
The Republican’s actions are deja vu. But the election results strongly suggest that all the words by Fox & Friends, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and conservative new media pundits won’t convince the bulk of Americans that Obama is to blame on this one: his positions are in keeping with opinion polls…and election results.
And, in the end, all of the kings horses and all of the kings men, and Jeb Bush and Maro Rubio and Chris Christie, might not be able to put the GOP together again in the eyes of votes for 2014 — and 2016.