By Thomas Heaney
A Scholar, a Gentleman, A Leader
Tonight President Obama demonstrated how it is possible to take the high road and win despite an openly hostile media environment. His intellect, skill as a communicator, and sheer toughness in the face of adversity displayed the mettle and resolve of a champion and the vision of real leader.
For years Republicans of various stripes have unapologetically proceeded on their quest for lobbyist-driven power at the expense of decent American jobs. The fates of our American middle class, our working poor, and our US reputation as a leading economic power in the world were all willingly sacrificed at the misnamed altar of “free trade” inevitability.
While George Bush was busy starting off-budget, unfunded wars, domestic manufacturing jobs were being outsourced at an ever-accelerating pace. Meanwhile Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor were silent partners, gleefully executing their complicity in the anti-populist, unsustainable course. All the while they did create a few jobs in one category: congressional lobbyists.
The election of President Obama changed the way Republicans rolled. Previously incurious Republican Representatives started asking budget questions. At this point the Republican hymnal suddenly flipped to the “We’re all broke now, who knew?” chorus. The American electorate deserves better. Much better.
Even before Bush 43, right-wing zealots have attempted to inoculate themselves against criticism by suggesting that endless tax cuts, another universal prescription, made sense in every economic situation. This was the basis of Grover Norquist’s idiotic never-increase taxes pledge, a pledge based on the concept that it would be a good idea to shrink the federal government to a size small it could be “drowned in the bathtub”. Destroying the federal government has landed a lot of people in jail over the years. Why would Norquist possibly be honored for this contribution?
Drowning the federal government and endless tax cuts are both foolish on economic grounds. Both ideas should be hard to justify in any economy and never inform any policy or legislative agenda. Yet both have become necessary Republican armor every time they do battle. And “doing battle” is the only way they roll when it comes to working with President Obama.
Truth or Consequences
Deliberately using this economy as an excuse to further assault American workers is something that should cost Republicans across the land their jobs. It’s high time for the President to muscle them into doing the right thing.
What began defensively as a response to pressure on President Obama turned to offense as the President evened the score after months of gratuitous unjustified lack of cooperation from the right side of the aisle. The President also showed favorably in the symbol-appropriation department. He simultaneously took back the Pledge along with requisite lapel pin on the cusp of 9/11. And as an added bonus he went on the offensive against birther bullies, invoking his own American heritage as he related the story of his grandfather. He even returned to his political roots, invoking the unifying spirit of Lincoln. The secessionists on the right need that kind of reminder from time to time.
To be sure, one more inspired speech doesn’t make a Presidency. Still it is so refreshing to hear our Commander in Chief articulate an inclusive path to economic vitality. The key is not to fight each other, but by getting back to working together. Tonight we heard and saw what we all should be talking about. Our President went positive in a sea of negativity. Only the most jaded cynic would not take him up on his challenge to “Pass it right away”. There is simply nothing as inspired coming from the right side of the political spectrum.