It’s not that President Obama came across as remotely triumphant or self-satisfied during his 11:00 a.m this-crazy-shutdown-is-finally-over presser. The guy looked tired and more than a little pissed off. When he said, “All my friends in Congress understand that how business is done in this town has to change,” he gave the distinct impression that he wanted to eat someone’s liver.
During his 20-minute speech, Obama drove home a sharp three-pronged message aimed squarely at House Republicans’ backsides: There was no reason this had to happen. Despite its futility, this political stunt has damaged the economy. And now, going forward, Congress needs to put on its big boy undies and get some shit done.
It was this last point on which he dwelled longest, outlining three goals he believes should be achieved by year’s end: a long-term budget; comprehensive immigration reform; and a responsible farm bill.
A failure to make progress, POTUS made clear, would suggest that certain “extremes in our parties who don’t like the word compromise” (ahem, looking at you Sen. Tortilla Coast) were reverting to their childish, destructive ways.
Indeed, much of Obama’s address sought to link future legislative tie-ups to the super meltdown of these past few weeks. As far as he’s concerned, House Republicans should now be viewed like recovering addicts, with any future stumbles treated as a sign of their deep-rooted disorder.
Obama is clearly hoping that the humiliation suffered by House Tea Partiers this week will shame them into being more accommodating going forward—or at least shame House leadership into no longer allowing itself to be jerked around by its right flank. This seems like optimism bordering on delusion. Maybe not regarding the farm bill. But immigration? Conservatives lost the shutdown standoff, but they’re not dead. Many of them, in fact, seem even more furious and convinced that something must be done to save this nation. As such, it seems just as likely that, rather than rethink opposition to the Senate immigration bill, they will attempt to get their mojo back by doubling down on killing it.
Still, you can’t blame Obama for wanting to get his licks in while the opposition is still licking its wounds. He is well aware that they will be up and punching back soon enough.