President Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday night threw down a gauntlet Republicans won’t be able to cast aside simply by saying “he’s dividing us”. His basic thrust was that it’s time for American to actually be America, a challenge this country must embrace if we are to think of ourselves as a world leader. What was interesting, however, was the tack of GOP response to the speech.
Republicans, you see, are in a bind. The establishment of the party is very nervous about the direction the right flank is taking (they’re more scared of Newt Gingrich than Democrats are).
They also know that Mitt Romney, with his $10,000 bets and 15% effective tax rate has absolutely no empathy with the broad swath of the electorate they hope to seduce.
So they let the four presidential candidates and the House leadership say what they wanted, and put their faith in Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to respond. It was Daniels that tried to use the issue of divisiveness to paint the president as ineffective.
Yet a confluence of events rendered the Republicans impotent. When President Obama talked about a 30% tax rate for millionaires, he didn’t have to mention Romney, who does no real work other than run for president but is worth a quarter of a billion dollars. His attempt to portray himself as a captain of American industry through his stewardship of Bain Capital a decade ago hardly rings true.
At the same time, Republican bleating over the president’s defense priorities were made moot when two teams of Navy Seals freed an American and a Dane kidnapped and held hostage in Somalia.
For many, the Barack Obama of the past couple of months bears a much closer resemblance to the guy they voted for in ’08 than the Obama of ’09 and ’10. He seems ready to wield his power more frequently, and to circumvent Congress if they want to play the obstructionist games of the recent past.
The terms executive order and recess appointment will likely be heard more often moving forward toward the November elections. Ironically, the last hope the Republicans have is that the economy craters again, which is in fact a possibility.
That’s why President Obama crerated a new mortgage unit to hopefully guard against a new wave of foreclosures.
Make no mistake. This president is done playing. Now the real battle for the soul of America begins.
It sure looks like they are. Conservative leaders in the GOP have put together a 10 point checklist they say candidates for office should adhere to. If they don’t follow the leader on at least 7, they’d be denied party funds and endorsements. WHOA!!!
Among the 10 so called “principles” is opposition to abortion, along with opposition to President Obama’s “socialist agenda”. Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of people who obviously long for the days of a senator named McCarthy.
This foolishness is even going to be presented to the Republican National Committee early next year. The inmates are truly running the asylum. What would they do about a Michael Bloomberg, who got the GOP line here in New York for the last mayoral election, but wouldn’t come close to hitting seven of the ten principles.
Suffice to say Mayor Mike wouldn’t have needed Republican money. In fact, they probably need his more. And what about the Republican’s resident homeboy, Michael Steele? Is he really ready to preside over a bunch of conservatives whose political strategy might well bury his party? Does any thinking Republican really want a litmus test?
It seems to me that at least in Congress, even the most moderate of Republicans toe the line, whatever the line is besides “no” on most legislation. Is this the next step for the tea party-ers, birthers, and Glenn Beck adherents? If so, Democrats ought to be licking their chops. That is, if they have the guts to articulate a different vision than a lockstep conservatism that I bet makes George Will cringe.
All this from a group of 10 members of the RNC who believe the Republicans have strayed too far from their conservative roots. It’s amazing they’ve gotten this far with their twisted initiative. But they have, and now it’s the party’s problem to fix, or maybe embrace.
I’m sure most of these folks haven’t read up on actual Republican history. It seems their memories only go back as far as Ronald Reagan. That people like Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller once proudly called themselves Republican must have slipped their notice.
No matter. If this is the true vision of the Republican Party, Michael Steele ought to resign tomorrow and give the reins of the RNC to co-chairs Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. The sad part is that some of the people who follow these folks are under the mistaken illusion these GOP celebrities actually care about them. Many have a right to be angry, but they’re mad at the wrong people.
Obama’s socialist agenda isn’t the issue. Seven figure bonuses for incompetent bankers who won’t lend credit worthy small businesses a dime are the problem. Much of what is presented to them is smoke and mirrors. And now, a purity test.
But you tell me. Are the Republicans far gone enough to actually implement these 10 “principles”?
Don’t bet on it. The Republicans have a two pronged approach to dealing with the Manhattan Congressman’s admitted bookkeeping lapses. On the one hand, they would revel in the chaos that would follow if they were successful in forcing him out as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. At the same time, they’d like nothing better than to use Congressman Rangel as a symbol or litmus test in next year’s congressional elections.
Neither will work. They’ve already tried to pass a resolution calling on Rangel to step down.
It failed miserably. Now, one of the congressmen leading the GOP jihad, John Carter of Texas, has had to admit to failing to disclose nearly $300,000 in profits from oil stock sales in 2006-2007.
While some might look at this as the height of hypocrisy, Carter and his friends in the House say they’ll press on trying to push Charles Rangel out as chair of Ways and Means.
As is typical when the pot calls the kettle black, Republicans try to differentiate between Carter’s failure to disclose and Rangel’s.
It doesn’t hold water, and they know it. But they press on, because in the end they have little else to run on next year but the twin fears of Charlie Rangel and Barack Obama. Now be honest. Other than the nonsensical effort to insert health insurance co-ops in place of a public option, what new ideas have you heard from Congressional Republicans?
The answer is few if any. In fact, Charles Rangel has introduced and helped pass more legislation important to the American people than all his detractors combined.
He has admitted to sloppy record keeping. It was Charles Rangel who asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate him, and it was Charles Rangel’s forensic accountants that found the tax and disclosure discrepancies in the first place.
So let John Boehner and John Carter do their worst. Charles Rangel has a distinguished history of service to his country (as a US marine) and his congressional district (take a walk through Harlem if you don’t believe me).
The Ways and Means Committee is one of the most powerful in Congress. That’s why they’re trying to take Charlie Rangel down.
Expressions of support, now a whisper, will turn into a deafening roar. Republicans will have to come up with more than just nit-picking to explain their own ethical problems. And in the end, no matter what you think of the dean of New York’s congressional delegation, he’ll prevail.
That’s what I think. How about you?