05.01.13 5:42 PM ET
A Word on "Obamabot"-ism
I don't mind being called an Obamabot. I mean, I've written a few columns about the guy that were brutal, toughing than anything Dowd's written, especially at the time of the debt ceiling fiasco. But I understand the game, and it doesn't bother me.
I have something I wish to make crystal clear, however. If it seems to you (I mean you, pumpkinface!) that I'm always excusing Obama, you're misreading me. I am instead seeking to cast blame where it properly belongs. And that is almost always the Republican Party. I've said all this a jillion times before, but it is simply not a mainstream political party in the traditional American sense. It is a radical oppositionalist faction, way beyond the normal American parameters both in terms of ideology and tactics. And that needs to be pointed out, unfortunately, again and again and again.
Just today, Pat Toomey said of the background-check bill:
"In the end it didn’t pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it."
A helpful admission on his part, and a rare piece of Republican candor. But this is the case time after time after time. It's not normal. It's not--and I mean not remotely--"the same thing" the Democrats did under Bush. Today's GOP is a complete historical outlier.
Yes, I'm sure there were many Democrats who didn't want to hand Reagan or either Bush a political victory. But historically, that is one of a handful of legislative considerations, and not even the first. Probably more like the fourth, after votes and money and what's right for the country. But today's GOP has turned it into iron law. It is relentlessly destructive.
On the subject of Gitmo, which I wrote about yesterday: In normal America, when a presidential candidate says he wants to do X once in office and then wins the election by a significant margin, Congress usually does X. The opposition party always attaches strings and conditions and so forth, but they obey the will of the people. Democrats, enough of them, led by Tip O'Neill, put Reagan's programs through. Same thing with Bush's tax cuts. (Republicans did not grant Clinton the same courtesy, but as bad as they were then, they're worse now.)
So in normal America, a deal would have been worked out whereby Gitmo would close. After all, remember, the Republican candidate in 2008 supported closing Gitmo too. It was the GOP's position! And yet, once Obama as president wanted to do it, they killed it cold in 2009.
They have been blocking it ever since. Here's a vote on the question of use of funds to transfer Gitmo detainees from last November, after Obama had been handily reelected. Every Republican present voted no. Every one.
That was on an amendment to to the defense reauthorization. That passed, and Obama signed it. But he issued a statement to accompany the signing explaining that he was dead-set against the provisions I referred to in this morning's post. Under the Constitution, of course, there is no line-item veto; a president either signs or vetoes an entire bill. This was a defense authorization, so he signed. But he made his position crystal clear. Here's the letter for you to see.
I'm sure there's more he could have done or could now be doing. But wouldn't you get a little discouraged? Oh, fucking hell, he thinks to himself at 3 am. Yes, I want to keep this promise I made. But why should I bang my head against that particular wall again? If I'm for it, they're against it. I won't get one Republican vote.
He is, obviously, a flawed human being; aloof, a little superior, not especially warm (so it seems), and no, he doesn't scare anybody. He has all of these flaws and more. Maybe a different human being could get Susan Collins or Rob Portman or Lamar Alexander to vote his way once in a while.
But I don't really think so. Collins and Portman and Alexander and others are, I'm certain, a little ashamed of their party today, and of themselves. But they are afraid of the right-wing agitprop media and their hard-shell base (and of course the threat of a primary from the right). So they don't have the guts to the right thing, and they likely never will.
So it's not that I'm always straining to defend Obama, although I can understand how it ends up looking that way. I am trying to tell as many people as I can that this Republican Party is extreme and wholly against American norms and traditions. And I think any opinion writer who isn't saying this over and over is, in ascending order of likelihood, lying, dense, or deceiving him or herself.