Friday, January 28, 2011
I continue my unflappable adoration of President Obama. His speech at Tucson was moving and pitch-perfect. In the State of the Union speech, I heard the same voice, message, and spirit that I heard at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
The Republicans made a decision not to work at all with Obama and the Democrats. They didn't want to give even the smallest bit of support to any of their bills, from Health Care to Financial Reform for fear that the Democrats would label these bills as "bipartisan." The Republicans wanted their hands clean from these bills. And politically, their strategy worked: Republicans swept the midterm elections, and Obama saw his numbers drop throughout the year, though they remained pretty stable considering the state of the economy.
Joshua Green has a wonderful article in the Atlantic profiling the new Republican Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It describes McConnell's plan to frustrate the White House through delay and obstruction on even non-controversial issues: "Obama could not evolve into a post-partisan leader, because McConnell wouldn't let him. He pegged Obama as either too narcissistic or to naive to recognize that his promise of a harmonious new age was beyond his capacity to deliver."
Once the Republicans won their election, they were more free to compromise in December, from the 9/11 First-Responders and Don't Ask Don't Tell legislation to the Start Treaty. Suddenly it seemed our government could function again! Obama's numbers began to rise after this "lame duck" session. That reinforces the fact that the Republican party had the right strategy, politically. But that strikes me as disgusting, for lack of a better word. They absconded their responsibility for two years in order to gain power in the next election! That might be a simplistic reading of the situation--after all, if I see everything Obama does as correct, then I have a biased view of his opposition--but seriously. Seriously!
Green raises those questions at the end of his McConnell profile, asking if "a party has any responsibility to address society's problems in good faith." But it seems as if this strategy of obstruction will be effective so long as the electorate rewards them for it.
Okay, back to writing. I promised myself I'd get to 8200 words on my would-be novel by the end of the week, and right now I have 7700.
Edited to add: I don't think everyone should unflappably adore their president. I'm glad they don't! We need people to challenge and criticize from the left and right in order for our country and our democracy to thrive. I'm just a cheerleader with purple pom-poms standing on the sidelines.