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October 08, 2011 11:25 AM McConnell takes chutzpah to new levels

By Steve Benen

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week that White House’s “explicit strategy” is to “make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done.” Seriously, that’s what he said. As McConnell sees it, President Obama doesn’t want Congress to function.

Yes, after years of tragic dysfunction and Republican-imposed obstructionism unseen in American history, the conservative GOP leader from Kentucky believes this is all the president’s fault.

“[T]hat’s their explicit strategy — to make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done.

“And how do you make sure of it? By proposing legislation you know the other side won’t support — even when there’s an entire menu of bipartisan proposals the President could choose to pursue instead. The President can govern as though this is the congress he wants or he can deal with the congress he has. Along the first path lies gridlock and along the second lies the kind of legislative progress Americans want. And as for Republicans, well, we’ve been crystal clear from the outset that we prefer the latter route.”

Got that? If Obama embraces proposals uncompromising Republicans like, then he’s being responsible. If he pushes an agenda Republicans reject, then the GOP-driven gridlock is his fault.

I rather doubt McConnell is so far gone that he actually takes this nonsense seriously, but let’s set the record straight anyway, in case anyone is confused enough to believe his ridiculous rhetoric.

For two and a half years, President Obama has, in practically every instance, tried to govern in a mainstream way, with proposals that have traditionally enjoyed at least some support from both parties. Much of his base has been infuriated by this, but the Obama White House has made a concerted effort, first outlined in the 2008 campaign, to govern in a way that could garner support from responsible officials in both parties.

Republicans haven’t cared. Even when the president has embraced GOP ideas, he’s found Republicans are willing to reject their own proposals if Obama agrees with them.

Arguably the one person most responsible for the breakdown of the American political process is Mitch McConnell. Indeed, in several instances, he’s been quite candid about his anti-governing strategy.

The record is unambiguous.

* In March 2010, McConnell explained his decision to try to kill health care reform from the outset, regardless of merit or Democratic compromises, by demanding unanimous Republican opposition: “It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.” It’s a dynamic that made compromise, quite literally, impossible.

* Soon after, McConnell explained the importance he and the House GOP leadership put on “unify[ing] our members in opposition” to everything Democrats propose, because unanimous Republican disagreement would necessarily make Democratic ideas less popular. “Public opinion can change, but it is affected by what elected officials do,” McConnell conceded. “Our reaction to what [Democrats] were doing had a lot to do with how the public felt about it. Republican unity in the House and Senate has been the major contributing factor to shifting American public opinion.”

* In August 2010, McConnell said he’ll only consider negotiating with the White House if they agree to accept center-right proposals, with no exceptions, even if there’s a Democratic majority.

* In October 2010, McConnell conceded on the record that defeating the president in 2012 is his “top priority,” above literally everything else, adding, “Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”

* In June 2011, McConnell said if President Obama asks him to consider an idea Republicans don’t like, it’s evidence of the president acting “in bad faith.”

* In August 2011, McConnell admitted that he and his Republican colleagues were willing to hold the nation and its economy “hostage,” threatening to destroy the United States’ full faith and credit on purpose.

And now McConnell would have Americans believe Obama, unless he agrees to govern the way Republicans want him to, is directly responsible for the perception that “Congress can’t get anything done.” This is even true right now, McConnell says, with an American Jobs Act filled with provisions GOP officials have traditionally supported.

McConnell’s willingness to blame the president for McConnell’s own deliberate strategy is plainly insane. He’s either completely lost touch with reality or he assumes those who take his rhetoric seriously have completely lost touch with reality. Either way, McConnell has taken chutzpah to levels that are hard to believe.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on October 08, 2011 11:31 AM:

    It's too bad Freud's not alive today.

    I think he'd write an interesting book about politicians who project projecting projection, while objecting to objective reality objectives.

    Yes, CAPTCHA my dear, rightic speech sums it up quite nicely!

  • Holmes on October 08, 2011 11:38 AM:

    McConnell has also been instrumental in crippling the confirmation process. There has never been this level of obstructionism in the Senate.

  • majun on October 08, 2011 11:50 AM:

    There's an old story about a farmer trying to plow his fields and his mule sits down and won't budge. The farmer is punching, slapping, kicking, tugging, and cussing up a storm, but the mule won't budge. A stranger happens by, sees the situation, and walks over to the farmer and tells him, "You are going about this all the wrong way friend. You can't beat a mule into submission, they're too stubborn. You have to reason with them and convince them." The farmer replies, "Yes? OK, maybe you want to show me how to do it?" The stranger agrees. He looks around on the side of the road he was traveling on and finds a nice sturdy tree branch, walks over to the mule and whacks it as hard as he can right between the eyes, nearly knocking it senseless. The farmer cries, "What about reasoning with him and convincing him???" The stranger replies, "Yep, I can do that now that I know I have his attention."

    After three years of playing the farmer, Obama has finally realized that he needs to get McConnell's attention, if he wants to negotiate with him. I think McConnell is just a bit scared. And well he should be.

  • Rugosa on October 08, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Steve, I think it's time to drop the pretense that Congressional Republicans are dim, confused, or insane. They are coldly calculating political opportunists who are very good at the game they are playing.

  • Munira on October 08, 2011 11:53 AM:

    The fact that McConnell is saying all this nonsense is proof that Obama's on the right track. The whole jobs bill thing is making the Repubs exceedingly nervous, as well it should.

  • dalloway on October 08, 2011 11:55 AM:

    McConnell is practicing the strategy invented by Hitler's propaganda minister and refined by Fox News: the bigger the lie, the more likely people will swallow it. Also, loudly accuse your opponents of doing the very sleazy things you're doing. Then if they protest, it automatically rings hollow. It's amazing the Dems haven't figured this out until now.

  • samsa on October 08, 2011 11:56 AM:

    Why is this so surprising?

    Anybody who has been awake for the last twenty years should have known that this is what the Republicans do - do bad things and accuse the opposition of being the doers of those exact bad things.

    Your ire should be directed at Obama for not understanding this and p-ssing away the last three years by working on the assumption - like a battered wife - that the Republicans have a nice heart and you just have to give in a little for GOP leaders' inner saintly beings to come out and embrace him.

    The Republicans leave no opportunity unused to bitch slap the Democrats and Obama on issues big and small. The Democrats and Obama are constantly making herculean efforts to live up to the stereotype of them portrayed by the Republicans as weak, cowardly, unprincipled, and fearful to explicitly stand for something.

  • Another Steve on October 08, 2011 12:01 PM:

    Steve, This is what the replublicans do, as we all know. Up is down, black is white etc. etc. It is all part and parcel of the BIG LIE, and it is constant. Please use (and invent - you have the talent) terms that are bold, succinct and, yes, a bit shocking to the other 30% of the country. It will get us airplay. We badly need a Democratic Wordsmith, and you can help fill that void. You are an excellent writer.

  • windshouter on October 08, 2011 12:05 PM:

    It's too bad the President has to propose all laws passed by Congress. Otherwise, the Republicans in the House could pick some of those ideas with bipartisan support and write legislation and pass them. Then, the Republicans could go after the Democrats for stalling popular bi-partisan legislation. Amazing that no one has thought of this. Maybe I can get a patent.

  • Trollop on October 08, 2011 12:10 PM:

    Evil knows no bounds. Occupy Wall Street FTW!

    McCornhole should be sent to a Hare Krisna camp for the remainder of his days, in torment of course.

  • stormskies on October 08, 2011 12:14 PM:

    McCornhole should be sent to prison and made into a bitch for all the inmates ... the problem of course is that he would probably like it .........

  • Hannah on October 08, 2011 12:20 PM:

    McConnell, pointing at Obama, while three of his fingers point back at himself... "It's all his fault!"

  • beb on October 08, 2011 12:28 PM:

    I was going to make my own comment here but Rugosa above says it all and more succinctly.

  • Josef K on October 08, 2011 12:32 PM:

    Perhaps Senator McConnell isn't insane or clever. Perhaps he really does believe this idiocy, but simply because he's too dim to realize precisely how insane he sounds.

    Its completely irrelevant to the larger dynamic, of course, but an interesting possibility.

  • Stephen Stralka on October 08, 2011 12:41 PM:

    My question is, Do the Republicans really want to start this conversation? Ever since Obama's inauguration, progressives have been lamenting how difficult it is to shine a light on Republican obstructionism, since it all has to do with arcane and unsexy thing like cloture votes. It suddenly gets a lot easier if the Republicans themselves want to talk about why Congress can't get anything done.

  • Anonymous on October 08, 2011 12:50 PM:

    @samsa: Say what?

    You start off laying out the nonsense of the GOP....and then you lay into the President and the Democrats?

    Pardon me, but what the hell is the logic behind that? Either you go full-blast at the GOP or you don't. The whole "pox on both their houses" meme is getting pretty stale in light of the fact that it is the GOP that is obstructing.

    Oh, and nice of you to mention the "battered wife". Too bad that you're deciding to blame the wife as well. Oh brother.

  • lou on October 08, 2011 12:55 PM:

    Obama shoulda waited to run for prez after this MFer was 6 ft. under.

  • Objective Dem on October 08, 2011 1:00 PM:

    I beginning to think that McConnell's name needs to become defined as a "someone interested in their own political fortunes regardless of harm to the country." Kind of like Quisling and Santorum names now describe who they are.

  • AK Liberal on October 08, 2011 1:01 PM:

    I take this as a strong indicator that the President is on the right track. Between AJA and OWS, I believe that the Minority Leader is worried.

  • FRP on October 08, 2011 1:03 PM:

    Hannah 12:20 PM:

    McConnell, pointing at Obama, while three of his fingers point back at himself... "It's all his fault!"

    Silkwood is a 1983 American drama film directed by Mike Nichols . With Meryl Streep playing Karen Silkwood , this was where I heard that very telling insight , humorous aside , first .
    Aside from the little details of how Karen Silkwood died , how wonderfully convenient that all her work detailing the rich and powerful , who acted as if there were no earthly human law that applied to them , vanished upon her death as she was motoring to a meeting that was to have placed these same observations into the public record .

    Excellent review of the mud loving creature from Kentucky , alas , I fear reflection is above its pay grade .

  • OldUncleDave on October 08, 2011 1:06 PM:

    McConnell knows what he is saying is BS.
    He also knows that Fock Snooze viewers will believe him.

  • Not Anonymous on October 08, 2011 1:13 PM:

    @Rugosa

    ". . .I think it's time to drop the pretense that Congressional Republicans are dim, confused, or insane. They are coldly calculating political opportunists who are very good at the game they are playing."

    Actually, republicans are acting out of fear and desperation; this is responsible for a plethora of bad decisions. Naturally, the consequences of their behavior is at a point now where most sane people can see that there is something quite wrong with them. The republicans made a fatal flaw in their strategy several years ago when they decided to openly defy the president's agenda. There was no logic in this approach simply because naked defiance: 1) isn't required to carry on the business of government and 2) is intrinsically disruptive in relationships.

    However, if your assertion that these republicans are rational "coldly calculating political opportunists" is true,then they are acting simply to destroy the president no matter what. That is the basic essence of high treason.

    Republicans are much worse than simple "coldly calculating political opportunists." They are traitors; they are a deadly cancerous growth on the very soul of this nation. Everything they are doing is destructive, precipitous, reckless and dangerous. Just the kind of people you want to try and rid yourself of. They belong in prison - all of them.

  • jjm on October 08, 2011 2:35 PM:

    to @samsa: you say Obama p*ssed away the last three years???!! Ezra Klein recently noted that Obama managed to pass more and more progressive legislation in TWO YEARS than most presidents have been able to do in TWO TERMS!

    Simply saying this big lie over and over again is what is giving the GOP great comfort.

    a) He hasn't been in for three full years. Not yet

    b) Try remembering this list:
    2009
    January 29: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
    February 4: Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act
    February 11: DTV Delay Act
    February 17: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
    March 30: Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009
    April 21: Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
    May 20: Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act
    May 20: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009
    May 22: Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009
    June 22: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
    August 6: Cash For Clunkers Extension Act
    October 22: Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act
    October 28: Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
    October 30: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
    November 6: Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009

    2010
    March 4: Travel Promotion Act
    March 18: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE Act)
    March 23: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    March 30: Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
    May 5: Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010

    July 14: Financial Regulatory Reform
    January 27: Emergency Aid to American Survivors of Haiti Earthquake Act
    March 4: Travel Promotion Act
    March 18: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE Act)
    March 23: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    March 30: Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
    May 5: Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010
    May 17: Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act
    July 1: Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act
    July 21: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
    July 22: Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010
    July 22: Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010
    August 10: SPEECH Act of 2010
    September 27: Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010
    December 9: Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010
    December 13: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
    December 17: Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
    December 22: Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010

    2011
    January 2: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (H.R. 847)
    January 4: Food Safety and Modernization Act, Pub.L. 111-353, H.R. 2751

    Notice where it hits the brick wall????

    With the inauguration of the GOP House.

  • zandru on October 08, 2011 2:54 PM:

    Reporting is a Big Part of the Problem

    Mr. McConnell's statements will be reported, in their entirety. Will the press follow up on what he actually DOES? What he has his Republican Caucus do? Will they reprise the history of GOP obstructionism, hypocrisy, and lying? Will they replay those quotes about how the Republicans' main goal is to make Obama a one-termer?

    This would be crucial to any serious report: what has actually happened, and the pertinent history.

    Instead, we'd be exceedingly lucky if we got a "Democrats say" which in any way counters the GOPropaganda.

  • samsa on October 08, 2011 3:34 PM:

    @jim I appreciate all that.

    But to the general public the main concern is the economy and unemployment, and on those counts Obama has been sorely deficient at least in terms of achieving visible results. This rather obvious lack of success has resulted mostly from his attempts to appease the Republicans, which in reality led to the toning down his economic proposals to such a level as to be ineffective as policy.

    In the larger context of what is going on to affect the national mood, all these lists that have been going around sound more like the padding of a resume by an eager High School senior trying to get into Yale. The affairs of the nation ain't high school.

    Someone above accuses me of pox on both housesism. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I want the Democrats to stand up for the principles of the Democratic party, and there is nothing wrong in calling them out if they don't.

  • jjm on October 08, 2011 3:46 PM:

    @samsa

    Yes, but I think you will find that it was more blue dog Democrats who stunted Obama's efforts to begin with: he ASKED for them to raise taxes on the wealthy while keeping the breaks for the middle class. He campaigned on it; he proposed it, he mentioned it in his weekly addresses, and he said it would help with job creation.

    The Democratic congress refused to take the issue up, fearing 2010 midterm repercussions--they sorely misjudged the public mood on that!

    The press, over and over and over again, has claimed that Obama never supported precisely what he did support and asked congress to do on taxes.

    He's bringing it up again, this time in the context of the abysmal job creation that has been exacerbated by the GOP's vicious tactics and hostage holding.

    And by doing so, he has made it make sense to the American people, who support his plan and the idea of taxing the rich for their fair share by wide margins.

    It's the GOP congress obstructing this time; dems are mostly on board, or soon will be.

    This time the blame will be crystal clear.

    I'm sure the GOP will twist and twist and twist, a la McConnell here, but I think they have blown their cover.

  • Ron Byers on October 08, 2011 3:51 PM:

    samsa, Obama has actually achieved a lot on the employment front. Just not enought in light of the giant hole Bush/Cheney put us in and the cruel reality that the Great Resession marked serious structural changes in the American economy.

    The "job creators" don't create jobs without customers. There aren't as many customers as there used to be when we had the largest middle class in human history.

  • Rugosa on October 08, 2011 4:05 PM:

    @Not Anonymous - I was speaking about Steve's conceit of blaming the Republicans' political speech and acts on their being mentally deficient, as though they can't help themselves. I won't let them off the hook that easily.

    I hope you are right that the Republicans are starting to get desperate. I said they were good, not invincible. They've been winning the game for 30 years, though, and it's going to take a fight. I sent the local version of OWS a donation for supplies, and I plan to drop by a march. Every bit will help.

  • cld on October 08, 2011 4:17 PM:

    No, he does take this nonsense seriously, and he seriously believes it and people who vote for Republicans seriously believe it.

    For social conservatives it's all about them, and absolutely nothing else.

  • Rabbler on October 08, 2011 4:31 PM:

    Haven't Obama and his strongest supporters made this same argument to progressives repeatedly? Haven't they accused progressives of the same type of obstructionism that they are now accused of?

  • Cha on October 08, 2011 4:48 PM:

    @ samsa.. you don't know a damn thing about the President if you think he doesn't realize what the repubs have been and what they are now.

    Obama has a different strategy to deal with them in the face of corporatatemediawhore$$ and Billions of dollars of lies being thrown at the American People via the idiot box. That is..try to get along with them and act reasonable and expose them for what they are and do what he needs to do for Democracy.

  • Cha on October 08, 2011 5:00 PM:

    @Rabbler.. I accuse profiteering professional whiners of lying their heads off to make a buck.

    They're not progressive..they're regressive for a dollar.

  • samsa on October 08, 2011 5:24 PM:

    @Cha

    Oh yeah. hidden successes and strategies in this game of 11-dimensional chess.

    Look,there is no A for effort for the President, much less the accounting for the ass-holes in the opposition and in his own party. You either achieve the results that affect the opinion of the people or not.

    Every President faces intransigent opposition to his proposals. Enough to point to Bill Clinton. The sign of a good one is that he is able to overcome that inherent aspect of a democracy. Sadly Obama did not even attempt to go that far: his proposals were what a Republican president might have asked the congress to pass. Even the much touted ACA was, according to himself, a version that Republicans wanted in earlier times and Romney passed in Mass.

    When you give the opposition the inkling that your going to bend to their wishes even before they ask you to do so, the opponents would want to break you, and then you will have a a more difficult problem on you hands. Obama has no one to blame for the current standoff but himself. As a liberal I would want him to change his tactics and strategies so that what would like to be done is done. I expect the Republicans to behave exactly as they are doing. It would be nice if they didn't, but it would also be nice if Hathaway agreed to go on a date with me.

  • mudwall jackson on October 08, 2011 6:13 PM:

    samsa,

    interesting you mention bill clinton. he did so well with health care reform. and the best he could do with gays in the military was DADT. both were major priorities for his administration. obama 2, clinton 0.

    to his credit, clinton did raise taxes and balanced the budget but the key piece of legislation was the omnibus budget reconciliation act of 1993. it passed the senate 51 - 50. my guess is that bill would not get anywhere near a floor vote with the way today's GOP operates. things have changed since 1993 and not for the better.

  • burro on October 08, 2011 6:55 PM:

    If President Obama, and staff, stay pissed and maintain the tone and clarity that he showed at the press conference, and which Jay Carney has demonstrated toward Cantor the bloodless, and which A.G. Holder has shown to POS Issa, then I will believe that the f'n r's have been lured deeply enough into a box canyon which they are going to have to climb, or shoot their way out of.

    It's possible. And it would be pretty cool. They've rode deep in. They're way past the point where they can say they just go lost. One could go in various directions with endings to this scenario, but in this version, lets just hope that the bad guys don't get to ride out of their potential predicament scot-free. If they are allowed to, then they are in no predicament at all, but they could be.

    The folks who can define the degree of the f'n r's potential difficulties are Dems, and their only path to redemption is to rub the f'n r's faces in their own incredible full of shitness as they try to ride out.

    Be tough Dems. Mercy will not be rewarded from any quarter.

  • Doug on October 08, 2011 7:02 PM:

    "Every president faces intransigent opposition to his proposals." samsa @ 5:24 PM

    You're failing to recognize that, UNTIL NOW, that "intransigent opposition" wasn't TOTAL. That's the difference and it's a great difference. The MSM's refusal to report what's actually happening; "Congress fails...", when really it's "Republicans block..." is another major component in what we're seeing now.
    Nor could President Obama, immediately after his Inaugeration in 2009, "come out swinging" against Republican opposition. At that point there was nothing to back up his argument that Republicans are the ones preventing Congress from functioning as intended. He would have been depicted, seemingly with great accuracy, as just another campaign promise-breaking politican.
    Compromise is NOT a dirty word in politics, it's the very essence of it and the sign of a politician who places progress for the country over party. That Republicans have no intention of practicing politics can't be blamed on the President.
    As has been noted, some ideas adopted by President Obama WERE supported by Republicans at one time, so what? Ruling out ideas from the opposition party is what Republicans do; Democrats take whatever may work and give it a try, irrespective of the source.
    The President's tactics and strategies seemed to have worked for "getting things done" as can be seen by jjm's post, so I don't really understand your dismissive reference to "11th dimensional chess". It seems to have done quite well, overall.
    Nor does your blaming President Obama for the actions of Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans make any sense, rationally or politically. You can bribe (some) politicians for their votes, apparently a preferred Republican method, you can frighten them with threats of being primaried, another Republican method, or you can compromise with them as Democrats try to do. In any case, what you CAN'T do is FORCE someone to vote for legislation they don't, for whatever reason, support. THAT'S why conpromises were made in the ACA and Stimulus bills, among others - to get the votes of DEMOCRATS.
    You decry the "pox on both your houses" meme, yet support it in your final paragraph with: "Obama has no one to blame for the current standoff but himself." Strange, to me it looks as if the "intransigent opposition" are the reason...

  • samsa on October 08, 2011 7:32 PM:

    "Nor does your blaming President Obama for the actions of Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans make any sense, rationally or politically,"

    I do no such thing. I blame him for sending the wrong signal to the opposition at the beginning of his term.

    He had two stark choices in early 2009. Either propose bold actions to stem the economic hurricane, or, in the name of bipartisanship, tone down what the economists were recommending at the time to solve the problems of the impending disaster. He placed a much higher value on bipartisanship. That definitely was a wrong choice that he made. He is suffering the consequences. We all are and will. And it's not as if a person even less versed in political climate of the day would not have been able to anticipate that no matter what he proposed at the time the Repubs will oppose him with all their lies, deceit and thuggery. Its futile to bring up counterfactuals, but at the beginning he did have the political capital.

    I don't know about you, but if I move into a neighborhood full of criminals of whom I have been forewarned, and am robbed when I leave my door open, I will blame myself for being careless.

  • smartalek on October 08, 2011 8:17 PM:

    Everything samsa said, yes.
    And seriously, who the $%^& does he think he's fooling when he drops the "g"s on his gerunds in his current speeches?
    Pathetic.
    He had the opportunity in '09 to get our country -- our world -- back on the right tracks.
    Instead, he transformed a Democratic wave election into a Publican resurgence in just two years.
    He's not only squandered that millennial opportunity, he's empowered the worst enemies of our country (the "malefactors of great wealth" have already killed far more Americans than Osama and his little band of psychos ever did) and outright supported most of their boldest and most damaging lies.
    It will take at least a generation to get things right again -- if we ever can.
    (It is all too possible that it's already too late, and the damage irreparable.)

  • bigtuna on October 08, 2011 8:33 PM:

    Samsa, and others. Big bold action - fine rhetoric, but remember even then, they needed to get 3 republican votes - Snowe, Specter, and Collins. They basically capped the ARRA at 900 million, and there were lots of tax cuts there [which is, in fact, classic Keynes idea]. maybe going for 1.5 trillion was the bold move, but not sure it was the passable move

  • Frances SMith on October 08, 2011 10:09 PM:

    "Yes, after years of tragic dysfunction and Republican-imposed obstructionism unseen in American history, the conservative GOP leader from Kentucky believes this is all the president�s fault."

    McConnell doesn't believe that; he is simply lying to get political points with his gullible base.

  • samsa on October 08, 2011 10:15 PM:

    @bigtuna

    now you tell us.

    the whole campaign was built on rhetoric. what was not soaring to the moon rhetoric at the time - like the wars and the prison on the bay - ultimately proved to be as such.

    and now you are telling me that at 1 pm EST on January 20, he suddenly realized that the rhetoric ain't gonna cut it, and he had to be pragmatic.

    if he could not even try to sway three somewhat independent republican senators, he clearly did not deserve our vote. what kind of leader is he? your defense diminishes him much more than my whining about him ever could.

    you are essentially telling us that we should forget the hopey and chanegy thing.

    perhaps you are sarah palin in disguise.

  • June on October 09, 2011 3:38 AM:

    @Samsa,

    The problem I have when I read the kind of perspective you put forth, is that it glosses over what the President has achieved in his negotiations with Republicans. I would rather have real-world results that help people, than liberal-read-meat proposals that go nowhere, and ultimately give ammunition to Republicans to make matters worse (Exhibit A, the badly-written standalone single payer bill put forth by House progressives, that Republicans essentially used as their template to accuse Democrats of a "gubmint takeover of healthcare.")

    You cite Bill Clinton as an example, but overlook how Clinton foolishly walked straight into a right-wing trap and was ultimately impeached by Republicans, and, as someone else pointed out, failed spectacularly in more than one of his "bold" initiatives (that's not to say I don't give the Big Dawg credit for aiming high. Obama was obviously able to benefit from studying the lessons learned there). However, I'll take Obama's actual results after his protracted negotiations with Republicans any day over fond memories of some of Bill Clinton's chest-thumping that looked great for the cameras, but ultimately left the status quo in place.

    "He had two stark choices in early 2009. Either propose bold actions to stem the economic hurricane, or, in the name of bipartisanship, tone down what the economists were recommending at the time to solve the problems of the impending disaster. He placed a much higher value on bipartisanship."

    I find that to be a faulty premise. We know Obama had to find a solution that could get passed through Congress and at the same time deliver on his campaign promises to attempt to change the tone in Washington. Even Krugman ended up grudgingly admitting that what he (Krugman) was proposing could not have passed in that political environment. Remember how many prominent (and rank-and-file) Republicans voted for Obama? -- so, the first thing Obama's going to do in 2009 is turn around and sideline/humiliate Congressional Republicans? That would not have made much sense. Did Obama let this bi-partisanship thing publicly play out too long? Yes. But looking at it in a real-world sense, short of having the power to line the opposition up against the wall, I don't know what Obama could have actually done within the confines of our democracy, and still accomplished as much as he has - in spite of the virulent idiocy, racism and outright nonsense he's had to put up with from Republicans. Something that often occurs to me as well, is that as our first African-American president, I think a factor as to why Obama went above-and-beyond in trying to work with Republicans could have been so as not to -- there's no delicate way to put this -- scare the shit out of white people who are nervous about what it means to have a brother in the WH. Yes, this is supposed to be "post-racial America," but we know that is still a myth.

    Still, at least two good political things have been accomplished with Obama's constant negotiating with Congressional Republicans -- the GOP is left with no legitimate excuses about WH non-cooperation, and Republicans' on-Koch agenda has been continuously exposed to the point where their own die-hard constituents are starting to jeer and run them out of town -- Paul Ryan, anyone?

    The wars -- the President has kept his word on the Iraq drawdown; he also kept it on Afghanistan, but many have a selective memory on that, seemingly choosing to forget that candidate Obama promised to concentrate on sending the necessary resources to that theater, while Republicans talked only about "muddling through."

    About that "rhetoric" -- candidate Obama also talked about the prospect of having to make tough choices, about the time it would take to turn around the absolute mess made over eight years by Republicans, about the need for patience, about having to do things he would rather not -- and in spite of all the desperate nonsense that Republicans have flung at him since Day 1 -- there are people who have jobs today because Obama provided strong leadership -- people who would not have jobs under a Republican president (auto industry, for one); there are people today who have health insurance because of Obama's strong leadership, yes, *strong leadership*, who would not have it under a Republican president (reports of a million young people who have continuing insurance under their parents' plans; people whose insurance plans can't throw them off, and can't raise their premiums sky-high; people who were able to get high-risk-pool insurance; and, look at the states now that have an actual shot at making single-payer work -- Vermont, Montana -- the way forward to single-payer for these states is written into the Affordable Care Act). There are scores of ways that a range of people across this nation are better off now because Barack Obama is in the WH pushing progressive ideas and signing off on progressive legislation -- which credible Republican presidential candidate would have pushed for student loan reform, or increased legal rights for Native Americans, or healthcare reform, or clean energy business tax credits, or fair pay for women -- not in this world, not now -- so when I see self-proclaimed liberals choosing to use their energy to join Republicans in posting demoralizing passages about a good, solid Democratic president --that appears to me as someone who actually wants to damage liberal causes, not help them.

    I am not saying there is no valid criticism of the President - - however, what I see too much from those posting as liberals online is an almost complete ignoring of the progressive items and legislation this President has championed and signed off on (why isn't everyone finding out about all the non-sexy progressive stuff this President has put into place from liberals who, one would think, would delight in spreading the word about it?). What gets me is that "we" complain that the President hasn't forcefully stood up to Republicans, while "we" actually seem to be on Republicans' side in trying to cut the knees out from under the President. That never makes sense to me. To what end? Getting Mitt Romney elected?

  • wodun on October 09, 2011 5:29 AM:

    Democrats controlled both houses of Congress from the 2006 election to the 2010 election. For a time Obama even enjoyed a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

  • John B. on October 09, 2011 6:22 AM:

    Speaking of hypocritical political leaders who have at their core no respect for constitutional principles, I can hardly wait to read SB's tiresomely predictable defense of the Obama administration's "Secret U.S. Memo made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen." (NYT, Charlie Savage, today) I suggest a thought experiment for all knee-jerk Obama supporters: when reading it substitute "Bush" for Obama" and "Cheney" for "David Barron and Martin Lederman." Then see if you have a different emotional reaction.

  • HMDK on October 09, 2011 6:27 AM:


    To June.

    "The problem I have when I read the kind of perspective you put forth, is that it glosses over what the President has achieved in his negotiations with Republicans.I would rather have real-world results that help people, than liberal-read-meat proposals that go nowhere, and ultimately give ammunition to Republicans to make matters worse (Exhibit A, the badly-written standalone single payer bill put forth by House progressives, that Republicans essentially used as their template to accuse Democrats of a "gubmint takeover of healthcare.")"

    Okay, here's the thing:
    "gubmint takeover of healthcare" would be a good thing.
    You know this, and the President knows it. The problem would be in how to articulate it and how to make the message strong and heard. Just giving it up is dumb.

    "I think a factor as to why Obama went above-and-beyond in trying to work with Republicans could have been so as not to -- there's no delicate way to put this -- scare the shit out of white people who are nervous about what it means to have a brother in the WH. Yes, this is supposed to be "post-racial America," but we know that is still a myth."

    Sure, it's a myth. But being afraid of myths instead of confronting them is cowardice.

    "Still, at least two good political things have been accomplished with Obama's constant negotiating with Congressional Republicans -- the GOP is left with no legitimate excuses about WH non-cooperation, and Republicans' on-Koch agenda has been continuously exposed to the point where their own die-hard constituents are starting to jeer and run them out of town -- Paul Ryan, anyone?"

    Ahaahaha... as if they NEED excuses.
    They're calling Reaganesque policies "socialist" and the press and far too many people take that not only in stride but as fact. During the last MANY decades the right has moved much further right and dragged the left with it, like a yammering poodle chasing a rottweiler.
    Instead of actually getting agressive and standing up for their convictions, the left has emulated the right. Not in fighting for what they believe in, like the republicans do, but by adopting republican policies a few years older and less inflammatory than the republicans' current ones. It's not even a holding action anymore... It's just business as useless(sic) while the whole nation slides ever rightward. And you may want to blame the voters, or use them as a shield, and say that this is what the public wants and that the public is right-leaning. Or you can take it as a challenge and actually clearly define the issues. A lot of people are voting against not only their own intersts but against even what they believe. But they have no clue of it because no one really gave enough of a damn to talk to them honestly.

  • Scott Smith on October 09, 2011 8:05 AM:

    McConnell is spot on! A jobs bill that is never gonna pass even his own party's Senate after Harry "land-grab" Reid re-writes the rules of the Senate. It's all just a lie from Obama. He is crying the jobs bill won't pass, no way on earth that bill should pass. It is his Truman moment: can't work with this Congress. Blah, blah, blah cry me a river. He puts terrible, divisive, partisan bills up, they shouldn't pass. He puts no effort into paying down the debt, it should not pass. It isn't Republican "no" saying that is the problem. They are fighting abortive spending and taxing habits we should not be undertaking. They are saying no to economy-stifling fiscal and regulatory policies. I applaud the Senator for calling this what member of Obama's own side are calling it: politics wrapped in a ribbon of false hope for jobs.

  • Tom Nicholson on October 09, 2011 8:39 AM:

    The global Dawn is underway.

    What the world is discussing is far larger than the old farts in DC, it's more than the Arab Spring.

    In a sense, when you look at the events of the past year, Republicans who blame Obama for a weak America, are, in reality, really trying to cling to their dreadful ways, fearful that the Dawn will get out of hand and be more than OWS.

    The Dawn is that awakening.

    It's about total rejection of ....

  • Reynardine on October 09, 2011 9:37 AM:

    There was the story of the man in Kazan who mudered his father and mother, and then asked the court to have mercy on him, because he was an orphan.

  • max on October 09, 2011 10:11 AM:

    McConnell is a criminal who belongs in an orange jumpsuit but he will probably be buried in Arlington along with Cheney, another criminal now on a book tour. This is the morality of modern America.

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