Editorial on the debt ceiling: Phony “hostage taking” and a President with limited political range
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While a healthy number of fiscal hawks on the Republican side voted against the debt ceiling deal, it’s the reaction from Democrats that has been the most, uh, what’s the word? Incendiary? Irate? Or just sanctimonious?
A congressman from Pennsylvania called Tea Party supporters terrorists during a closed-door meeting with Vice President Biden. The online journal Politico reported “several sources in the room” said Biden agreed with the terrorist label, although Biden strenuously denied using the word in an interview with CBS News.
New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman is lauded by his supporters as being even-tempered but in a conference call, he said this about conservative efforts in the debt ceiling debate: “One of the commentators here in Washington called this ‘government at gunpoint’ and I don’t think that’s a bad description.”
Words like “hostage taking” and “extortion” are on the lips of Democrats across the board now that the debt deal is done, including New Mexico House members Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich.
It’s odd that these words are being used just as Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned to take her seat in the House. Aren’t these many of the same Democrats who lectured the country after Giffords was shot that people (read: Republicans, conservatives, Tea Party followers, Sarah Palin) should refrain from using words conveying violent images? President Obama said at the time we should “make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
Of course, that was poppycock then and it’s poppycock now.
Tough language has always been a part of politics and those who pretend to get the vapors when they hear anything scabrous are simply whining or, to be more accurate, trying to defang their opponents by pretending to take the high road.
Hell, I thought that line about the debt deal being a “Satan sandwich” was pretty funny.
But spare me the self-righteousness and outright hypocrisy of wagging your finger at “the level of discourse” in politics today when you use the very language you supposedly deplore when your side takes it on the chin.
Funny how the health care bill that Democrats rammed through despite passionate opposition didn’t inspire words like “terrorist” or “hostage-taking.”
And I seem to remember President Obama telling GOP opponents of the stimulus plan to take a hike when they complained about getting shut out of the process: “I won,” he reportedly said to Republicans in a closed-door meeting.
That’s what happens in the political process when one side has the hammer: They use it.
It’s difficult to buy the extortion and hostage-taking lines when the president and Democrats control two-thirds of the legislative process (the executive and the Senate).
Think this thing through logically. If this bill in its final form is so offensive to rank and file Democrats — yet still managed to wend its way past them when they’re in charge of 66.7 percent of the machinery — one must conclude that the president and the Dems in congress must be A) incompetent or B) complete rubes.
What’s their message to the liberal wing of their party, “Stop us before we screw up again?”
And wouldn’t it have been wiser for Democrats to arrange a deal right after the November election last year when they still controlled all three legislative branches? If you’re a liberal outraged at what happened this week, the majority of your anger should be directed at party leadership and a president who — for all his charisma and ability to get so many voters in 2008 to project whatever they yearned for upon him — increasingly shows himself to have very limited political range.
If there’s a hostage here, it’s Barack Obama. But the captor is not Republicans or Tea Partiers, but the floundering economy.
The debt deal is done. Now, that won’t stop politicians from making recriminations and reinforcing talking points their handlers think may resonate with the public as the 2012 elections draw near, but ultimately all that doesn’t matter.
Yes, the electorate is increasingly turned-off and tuned-out. But it’s not because of the debt ceiling debate. That only sharpened the focus of their discontent.
What has voters in a bad mood is their own increasingly perilous financial situation.
So the political equation is simple for the president: If the economy changes for the better, Obama will win in 2012.
But there are indications things won’t get rosier in the next year. Yesterday (Aug. 1) on CNBC, financial advisor Meredith Whitney said the nation is increasingly at risk of sliding into a double-dip recession and Douglas A. McIntyre says we’re already there.
As investment manager Bernard McGinn said this week, “At the end of the day what’s happening today will be forgotten a month from now. But what won’t be forgotten a month from now is the balance sheet and spending obligations of the US government.”
President Obama is lucky in one sense: The Republican presidential field is remarkably weak. Sure, polls show him losing to a generic Republican but when pollsters ask about specific GOP candidates, Obama scores much better.
But if the economy doesn’t turn around, Barack Obama in 2012 looks awfully similar to Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Posted under Blog.
Tags: Barack Obama, Ben Ray Lujan, Bernard McGinn, CBS News, CNBC, debt ceiling, Douglas A McIntyre, Gabrielle Giffords, Jeff Bingaman, Joe Biden, Martin Heinrich, Meredith Whitney, Politico, Satan sandwich