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Dickerson writes: "After the last four years, how do you call the nation and its elected representatives to common action while standing on the steps of a building where collective action goes to die?"

President Obama and Vice President Biden announce the administration's new gun law proposals on Wednesday. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Obama and Vice President Biden announce the administration's new gun law proposals on Wednesday. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)



Obama Must Declare War on the Republican Party

By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

20 January 13

 

n Monday, President Obama will preside over the grand reopening of his administration. It would be altogether fitting if he stepped to the microphone, looked down the mall, and let out a sigh: so many people expecting so much from a government that appears capable of so little. A second inaugural suggests new beginnings, but this one is being bookended by dead-end debates. Gridlock over the fiscal cliff preceded it and gridlock over the debt limit, sequester, and budget will follow. After the election, the same people are in power in all the branches of government and they don't get along. There's no indication that the president's clashes with House Republicans will end soon.

Inaugural speeches are supposed to be huge and stirring. Presidents haul our heroes onstage, from George Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. George W. Bush brought the Liberty Bell. They use history to make greatness and achievements seem like something you can just take down from the shelf. Americans are not stuck in the rut of the day.

But this might be too much for Obama's second inaugural address: After the last four years, how do you call the nation and its elected representatives to common action while standing on the steps of a building where collective action goes to die? That bipartisan bag of tricks has been tried and it didn't work. People don't believe it. Congress' approval rating is 14 percent, the lowest in history. In a December Gallup poll, 77 percent of those asked said the way Washington works is doing "serious harm" to the country.

The challenge for President Obama's speech is the challenge of his second term: how to be great when the environment stinks. Enhancing the president's legacy requires something more than simply the clever application of predictable stratagems. Washington's partisan rancor, the size of the problems facing government, and the limited amount of time before Obama is a lame duck all point to a single conclusion: The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat.

President Obama could, of course, resign himself to tending to the achievements of his first term. He'd make sure health care reform is implemented, nurse the economy back to health, and put the military on a new footing after two wars. But he's more ambitious than that. He ran for president as a one-term senator with no executive experience. In his first term, he pushed for the biggest overhaul of health care possible because, as he told his aides, he wanted to make history. He may already have made it. There's no question that he is already a president of consequence. But there's no sign he's content to ride out the second half of the game in the Barcalounger. He is approaching gun control, climate change, and immigration with wide and excited eyes. He's not going for caretaker.

How should the president proceed then, if he wants to be bold? The Barack Obama of the first administration might have approached the task by finding some Republicans to deal with and then start agreeing to some of their demands in hope that he would win some of their votes. It's the traditional approach. Perhaps he could add a good deal more schmoozing with lawmakers, too.

That's the old way. He has abandoned that. He doesn't think it will work and he doesn't have the time. As Obama explained in his last press conference, he thinks the Republicans are dead set on opposing him. They cannot be unchained by schmoozing. Even if Obama were wrong about Republican intransigence, other constraints will limit the chance for cooperation. Republican lawmakers worried about primary challenges in 2014 are not going to be willing partners. He probably has at most 18 months before people start dropping the lame-duck label in close proximity to his name.

Obama's only remaining option is to pulverize. Whether he succeeds in passing legislation or not, given his ambitions, his goal should be to delegitimize his opponents. Through a series of clarifying fights over controversial issues, he can force Republicans to either side with their coalition's most extreme elements or cause a rift in the party that will leave it, at least temporarily, in disarray.

This theory of political transformation rests on the weaponization (and slight bastardization) of the work by Yale political scientist Stephen Skowronek. Skowronek has written extensively about what distinguishes transformational presidents from caretaker presidents. In order for a president to be transformational, the old order has to fall as the orthodoxies that kept it in power exhaust themselves. Obama's gambit in 2009 was to build a new post-partisan consensus. That didn't work, but by exploiting the weaknesses of today's Republican Party, Obama has an opportunity to hasten the demise of the old order by increasing the political cost of having the GOP coalition defined by Second Amendment absolutists, climate science deniers, supporters of "self-deportation" and the pure no-tax wing.

The president has the ambition and has picked a second-term agenda that can lead to clarifying fights. The next necessary condition for this theory to work rests on the Republican response. Obama needs two things from the GOP: overreaction and charismatic dissenters. They're not going to give this to him willingly, of course, but mounting pressures in the party and the personal ambitions of individual players may offer it to him anyway. Indeed, Republicans are serving him some of this recipe already on gun control, immigration, and the broader issue of fiscal policy.

On gun control, the National Rifle Association has overreached. Its Web video mentioning the president's children crossed a line.* The group's dissembling about the point of the video and its message compounds the error. (The video was also wrong). The NRA is whipping up its members, closing ranks, and lashing out. This solidifies its base, but is not a strategy for wooing those who are not already engaged in the gun rights debate. It only appeals to those who already think the worst of the president. Republicans who want to oppose the president on policy grounds now have to make a decision: Do they want to be associated with a group that opposes, in such impolitic ways, measures like universal background checks that 70 to 80 percent of the public supports? Polling also suggests that women are more open to gun control measures than men. The NRA, by close association, risks further defining the Republican Party as the party of angry, white Southern men.

The president is also getting help from Republicans who are calling out the most extreme members of the coalition. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the NRA video "reprehensible." Others who have national ambitions are going to have to follow suit. The president can rail about and call the GOP bad names, but that doesn't mean people are going to listen. He needs members inside the Republican tent to ratify his positions - or at least to stop marching in lockstep with the most controversial members of the GOP club. When Republicans with national ambitions make public splits with their party, this helps the president.

(There is a corollary: The president can't lose the support of Democratic senators facing tough races in 2014. Opposition from within his own ranks undermines his attempt to paint the GOP as beyond the pale.)

If the Republican Party finds itself destabilized right now, it is in part because the president has already implemented a version of this strategy. In the 2012 campaign, the president successfully transformed the most intense conservative positions into liabilities on immigration and the role of government. Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination on a platform of "self-deportation" for illegal immigrants - and the Obama team never let Hispanics forget it. The Obama campaign also branded Republicans with Romney's ill-chosen words about 47 percent of Americans as the party of uncaring millionaires.

Now Republican presidential hopefuls like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal are trying to fix the party's image. There is a general scramble going on as the GOP looks for a formula to move from a party that relies on older white voters to one that can attract minorities and younger voters.

Out of fear for the long-term prospects of the GOP, some Republicans may be willing to partner with the president. That would actually mean progress on important issues facing the country, which would enhance Obama's legacy. If not, the president will stir up a fracas between those in the Republican Party who believe it must show evolution on issues like immigration, gun control, or climate change and those who accuse those people of betraying party principles.

That fight will be loud and in the open - and in the short term unproductive. The president can stir up these fights by poking the fear among Republicans that the party is becoming defined by its most extreme elements, which will in turn provoke fear among the most faithful conservatives that weak-willed conservatives are bending to the popular mood. That will lead to more tin-eared, dooming declarations of absolutism like those made by conservatives who sought to define the difference between legitimate and illegitimate rape - and handed control of the Senate to Democrats along the way. For the public watching from the sidelines, these intramural fights will look confused and disconnected from their daily lives. (Lip-smacking Democrats don't get too excited: This internal battle is the necessary precondition for a GOP rebirth, and the Democratic Party has its own tensions.)

This approach is not a path of gentle engagement. It requires confrontation and bright lines and tactics that are more aggressive than the president demonstrated in the first term. He can't turn into a snarling hack. The posture is probably one similar to his official second-term photograph: smiling, but with arms crossed.

The president already appears to be headed down this path. He has admitted he's not going to spend much time improving his schmoozing skills; he's going to get outside of Washington to ratchet up public pressure on Republicans. He is transforming his successful political operation into a governing operation. It will have his legacy and agenda in mind - and it won't be affiliated with the Democratic National Committee, so it will be able to accept essentially unlimited donations. The president tried to use his political arm this way after the 2008 election, but he was constrained by re-election and his early promises of bipartisanship. No more. Those days are done.

Presidents don't usually sow discord in their inaugural addresses, though the challenge of writing a speech in which the call for compromise doesn't evaporate faster than the air out of the president's mouth might inspire him to shake things up a bit. If it doesn't, and he tries to conjure our better angels or summon past American heroes, then it will be among the most forgettable speeches, because the next day he's going to return to pitched political battle. He has no time to waste.

 

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+144 # tswhiskers 2013-01-20 08:57
Yes, the President should call out the Reps. for the childish obstructionists that they are. The media could also be a big help here by blaming the Reps. for their unwise, short-sighted policies instead of always blaming both parties for every problem. It's true that neither party is entirely blameless in the mess that is our current Congress and yes, both are corrupted by big campaign money. However, it is still true that most of the country's problems stem from Rep. obstructionist politics. name any policy or problem and invariably Reps. are the basic problem; whether it is that they refuse to let certain bills come to the floor, or they filibuster them, or they absolutely to compromise on anything. The Post Office for emample, is hanging in limbo because it can't raise the money Congress insisted it raise, and because the Reps. always prefer a non-govt. solution to a public one. Obama has not so far put the Post Office on his 2d term agenda. Again, name any problem and the Reps. are right there obstructing it. I call to all Dems, the media and the President: call out the Reps. for their stupidity and stubbornness and name names. Put the blame where it really belongs and don't be shy about it.
 
 
+115 # FactsFirst 2013-01-20 10:15
"I call to all Dems, the media and the President: call out the Reps. for their stupidity and stubbornness and name names. Put the blame where it really belongs and don't be shy about it."

Exactly. Bullies do not respond to coddling. Push back. Hard.
 
 
+19 # Erdajean 2013-01-20 11:15
Well, tswhiskers, you got more from this treatise than I did. Thanks for the translation. NPR News minutes before this reading proclaimed that Obama vows to attempt MORE dialogue, conciliation, whatever, with the GOP in the new term. That, along with economy-buildin g and immigration reform. Climate change was not mentioned in that view of the "new" agenda -- NOR was any tougher response to GOP obstructionism, which it seems could use a few forceful jabs with the pitchfork of outrage.
Remember that Monty Python moment, when the knight keeps fighting, sort of, with SUCH civility -- though minus arms and legs? The scariest thing is whether Obama -- who HAS the arms and legs, and the strong will of the majority -- will let "civility" stand against the MUST-DO thrust for common sense, grown-up behavior in Congress, and justice for the people. Coddling the GOP toddlers will NOT suffice.
Nothing in Dickerson's commentary makes that issue, or anything, clear.
 
 
+10 # Merschrod 2013-01-21 05:37
Jean, the NPR crowd is a whimpy establishment-c entered bunch. The days of compromise and being "nice" should be over.
 
 
+5 # Erdajean 2013-01-21 10:47
Thank you, Merschrod -- Precisely right. Of COURSE NPR must be "nice" to the hand that feeds it - which is sadly attached to the Fascist corporate arm that rules what passes for our government. The time to get down to brass tacks (better, brass knucks) with GOP thugs was a long time ago but it can only get worse -- unless, somebody FOR the people forces an offensive against the vandals, and does not look back.
 
 
-6 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-01-20 12:38
"Put the blame where it really belongs and don't be shy about it". The blame is on us, the people of this nation for voting for either the Democrats or the Republicans. Face it. Our government is corrupt. Our representing the wealthy people of this nation. The Dems, the media and the President are NOT STUPID. They are doing what what they are paid well to do. Their job specs do not include paying any attention to the working people of this nation. Aren't you starting to see that clearly?
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2013-01-22 09:43
Oh my dear wantrealdemocra cy....your anarchism is sooooooo passe.
 
 
+30 # X Dane 2013-01-20 13:49
tswiskers.
It will have to be the people, not the Media. We are out of luck if we depend on them for anything, since they are almost entirely right wing owned, They have no interest in making Obama look good, or helping him.

It will have to be people power. Obama and his aides have mobilized their election team and they will be contacting all the people who worked and voted to elect him, so they can LEAN on congress.

That is exactly what is needed. We sure need some action,...posit ive, ...from congress. At the present they work 2 DAYS A WEEK????

The rest of the time they are home in their district fundraising, and for that we pay them from 150,000$ and way up. Boener gets around 250.000$, For TWO DAYS OF ??WORK??

Enough of that. They need to put in a LOT more time WORKING FOR US.
 
 
+21 # genierae 2013-01-20 15:48
X Dane, MSNBC PM shows definitely support Obama, and they do make him look good. Haven't you seen The ED Show, The Last Word, Maddow, Politics Nation, etc.?

What if President Obama ignored his Lame Duck fate and continued making waves? Why do they insist that he will lose his power in 18 months? I hope he doesn't take that seriously.
 
 
+14 # X Dane 2013-01-20 18:39
Genierae.
You are right of course. MSNBC certainly are helpful to the President. But how many more can you name? But I wonder how many people watch MNSBC.

I am annoyed with CNN, they are working hard to get more like Fox. They have many snide remarks about Obama.

I used to think David Gergen was impartial, after all he has worked in both republican and democratic administrations , but today I heard him being rather negative about the President and Bob Woodward are too.
Most of the newspapers are right wing owned. So I don't expect much from them.
 
 
+2 # A_Har 2013-01-23 16:29
This is absurd. The media is wholly corporate owned as is Obummer. These battles are all a head fake: they are all in it together. Obama is in the pockets of the big corporations; he has no interest in the needs of ordinary people as *they did not fund his campaigns.* If you imagine otherwise you are thoroughly hypnotized.

AND just FYI...I do not support the Republicrats. Both parties are corrupt beyond your wildest dreams.

As to the media, a number of years ago, there was a court case wherein it was determined that it is legal for the media to LIE:
http://www.relfe.com/media_can_legally_lie.html

The case involved Fox News, but if you think the other corporate media outlets were not paying attention to this, I would say *you are dead wrong.* They all lie to you. Turn off the TeeVee and read Chris Hedges.
 
 
+6 # unitedwestand 2013-01-21 01:55
You are right, that this is truly a time while the iron is hot and we have our president raring to get stuff done, that we the people participate more than ever. Now that we also know how calcified the GOP is and their willingness to destroy the government and this president, we have to push things like never before.

Our Reps. do have to show up in their districts, but you're right, they have to spend the majority of their time fundraising, so we have to work to get money out of politics and overturn or amend Citizens United decision.
Boehner is definitely over-paid.

So happy that we don't have to say Pres. Romney, and can look forward to an inauguration of one of the most charismatic and smartest president since Clinton. :-)
 
 
+3 # X Dane 2013-01-22 10:40
United.

I hope you enjoyed the Speech. Obama is definitely "coming out" as who he is and what he really want for the country. We must fight with him.

I think the first thing we should all DEMAND: That the damned keystone pipeline not come near our country.
We must help on the Climate change. It will be VERY HARD FOR ALL OF US.

For if we want to save the planet for our children and grandchildren, we will have to give up A LOT of what we take for granted.

And of course the oil companies, who have a LOT of oil they want to get out of the ground....will fight like MAD.
 
 
+13 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-01-20 18:31
Recently, I had the privilege of having a conversation with a university political science instructor. His comment: "the Republicans now think, which was not always a historical fact, there is only one government. Theirs. And they became drunk with power when they recently won the House and "knew" they would also "take" the last presidential election.

To them, Democracy only gets in the way if it cannot be purchased for a dollar price." I like to some extent George Bernard Shaw's cynical comment: "Democracy is the process of the election of most often an incompetent by the incompetent. Republicanism is the process of an appointment of an incompetent by the corrupt few." Was Mr. Shaw being too cynical? Perhaps?

Abraham Lincoln once commented: "Americans can face any crisis if given the facts. The point is to give them the facts." Think I'll mostly go with Lincoln, but still keep Shaw's comments in the back of my mind.
 
 
+44 # Susan1989 2013-01-20 10:44
Maybe it is what we don't fully see that is hurting our nation. Possibly humans are not paying attention to what is happening because we are always moving on to the next place. We are already thinking about when we will label this President a lame duck...how can we possibly get anything done when no one can sit still. No wonder our children have ADD at record numbers...we are a culture of hype and anxiety.
 
 
+25 # X Dane 2013-01-20 14:08
Susan1989
You nailed it. The attention span of our people is that of a flea. Already election night some of the pundits were speculating on who were the front runners for 2016???
....The fools forget that there is a whole lot of work to be done before that....Very important work that MAY determine the candidates for 2016.

You can see also on TV, when a very serious topic is being discussed, hardly any time is allotted to a sensible answer. And participants are urged: QUICKLY.

Nobody is interested in working on solutions, just throwing out topics, asking for a QUICK answer ....worth ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
 
 
+39 # jrmcq1 2013-01-20 10:52
Declaring war is no way to move ahead with lasting change. Of course, continuing the last 4 years of consession and passive resistance isn't either. A posture of "tough love" is needed to oppose the insanity of GOP obstructionism while gladly welcoming those who wish to seek solutions. Also, the effort has to be made to go into the House districts and Senate states with viable candidates to oppose the Looney Tunes GOP candidates, like Strickland of TX.
 
 
0 # CAMUS1111 2013-01-21 18:34
yawn
 
 
+52 # DaveM 2013-01-20 11:03
I'd be quite happy to see the President spend his second term completing the work he promised for his first term. The problems he sought to address are still out there, and are not getting better with the passage of time.

We have one mid-term election ahead under the Obama Presidency and a fine opportunity to vote obstructionists out. Let us remember that. Our vote carries far more weight than any words by the President, who has better things to do. Mind, if he wants to provide a list of names, I will certainly keep it in mind the next time I go to the polls.
 
 
+11 # genierae 2013-01-20 15:52
You're right DaveM, mid-term elections are very important, yet most voters stay home. That's how we get stuck with Republican no-nothings here in Ohio, and our social safety net suffers because of it. They lost the White House but they are doing great damage in our states.
 
 
+25 # reiverpacific 2013-01-20 11:31
As previous articles on RSN have already stated in depth, the shills for the plutocrats don't give a damn what Obama or anybody else thinks or says about them and their "Foreheads villainous low tactics", as they are already in the pockets of their corporate masters and will keep getting elected in the regional offices with the concentrations of wealth spread into these elections by the Kochs and their ilk.
I'm not saying that there aren't Blue dogs (with apologies to dogs -who came up with this one anyway; -more like "Yellow finks", what?) but even Obama, a right-centrist, is actually trying to get something done and is continuously struggling with the party of "No!" including no ideas of their own.
How else do yoy explain the survival of the likes of Michelle Blechmann and the looney tea-buggers, who could only get a toehold in a dumbed out, bummed out plutocracy like the US?
 
 
+7 # NOMINAE 2013-01-20 16:52
Quoting reiverpacific:
..... the shills for the plutocrats don't give a damn what Obama or anybody else thinks or says about them ......, as they are already in the pockets of their corporate masters ...... but even Obama, a right-centrist, is actually trying to get something done and is continuously struggling with the party of "No!" including no ideas of their own.
How else do yoy explain the survival of the likes of Michelle Blechmann and the looney tea-buggers, who could only get a toehold in a dumbed out, bummed out plutocracy like the US?


You yourself supply the answer to your closing question with your opening observations re: the obligations to corporate masters to which both parties are bound at the hip.

"The people" have been excluded from this corporate-contr olled game for over thirty years. It has only become more obvious and egregious in recent years. The "masters" are now cocky enough to operate fully in the open, and in broad daylight. In truth, they really don't HAVE to "care" anymore. Banking breakup anyone ?

So, I hope I may make so bold as to offer a two word answer to the apparent dilemma you pose in your closing query:

POLITICAL THEATER.

The "masters" own the "sand box". They really don't care how far we push the sand to the left, or to the right, just so the sand stays IN the sandbox. That way we have the illusion of "participating" , and they keep laughing all the way to the "too-big-to-fai l" robbery mechanisms.
 
 
+44 # Barbara K 2013-01-20 11:38
The Republibaggers have declared war on the rest of us, and we must fight back all we can. Mr. President, call them out on every sneaky, dirty trick and lie they do. Including sneaking things into the Bills that were not voted on or intended to be in there. Fight them with all your might. That is what it will take. Also, stop them from rigging the elections so that we can never get another Dem in congress, they are doing those now and that should be illegal. They are doing it in Michigan too so that we can never vote another Dem into any position. Please stop them.
 
 
+20 # genierae 2013-01-20 15:59
BarbaraK, they are now trying to rig the Electoral College so that votes will be spread between both candidates instead of the winner-takes-al l that now occurs. If this had been in effect in 2012, despite winning the popular vote by five million votes, Obama would have lost to Romney. These criminals must be stopped.
 
 
+10 # X Dane 2013-01-20 16:38
Barbara.
I think the president will call them out, he is much more STEELY and firm. However, I do not think he should do it in the Inauguration Address.

That should be one that bring us together and tell us what he hope to do for, and with the country.

Inauguration Speeches should touch the heart of the country, great ones are for the ages, as JFK's.

But Obama has his chance IN THE STATE OF THE UNION Address. Then he can lay out, what it is he ask of the republicans, and frankly also from some democrats. He can be more firm.

He has a very tricky job, for we want him to be assertive and effective, but he also has to be careful, not to come off as a bully, for so many of our country men and women want to get a more conciliatory tone in Washington.
I sure do not envy him.

You are so right on Barbara, that the election laws needs to be protected.
The republicans are very busy trying to make it impossible for democrats to win the White House again.

The gerrymandering of so many districts is the reason we can not get rid of people like Louis Gomert and Michelle Bachman.
 
 
-1 # A_Har 2013-01-23 16:36
Let's get real here. Obama is not going to do anything that goes against his puppeteers. You are seeing what you want to see--NOT who the guy really IS.
 
 
+29 # MainStreetMentor 2013-01-20 12:09
In two separate national elections the American People have provided Obama with majority support. That is his jusification to move against the Republican policies, tactics and obstructionism. STOP trying to be the "most reasonable man in the room", and become the most DECISIVE man in the room, with those decision based on sound ethics, strong morals and the backing of the Amnerican People. Obama has walked softly carrying a big stick long enough - it's time to stop walking and begin swinging.
 
 
-45 # Depressionborn 2013-01-20 12:09
really easy,

stop out of control spending and simply follow the Constitution. It works.
 
 
+16 # reiverpacific 2013-01-20 16:29
Quoting Depressionborn:
really easy,

stop out of control spending and simply follow the Constitution. It works.

Fine 'cept just in case you haven't been paying attention lately, the Reprobate Party aren't above tinkering with or ignoring the constitution to suit their totalitarian goals, including the re-districting shenanigans most effective in Texas but sneaking up on many other states, Minnesota being just the latest in line, hence the departure of Denis Kucinich.
You should get out a little more.
 
 
+5 # wwway 2013-01-20 22:28
The constitution doesn't say anything about how to control debt. It only give congress the right to raise revenue and spend. Read it.
 
 
+4 # flippancy 2013-01-21 10:51
Quoting Depressionborn:
really easy,

stop out of control spending and simply follow the Constitution. It works.


Our spending is neither out of control or too high. Our problem is solely caused by not taxing the rich at the proper level. Despite having military bases in over 150 countries our spending is the lowest as a % of GDP of all the free world countries other than Taiwan.

The top marginal rate must ALWAYS be at least 70% for the country to thrive. Under Eisenhower it was 91% and corporations paid 52% of all taxes and the economy was booming. Now the rich are fighting to prevent the marginal rate from going to 39% and corporations pay 8% of the taxes.

Every Republican and far too many Democrats are liars on this subject. You can spot a liar when he/she says we're spending too much. The exact opposite is the fact.
 
 
+13 # bobby t. 2013-01-20 12:15
A list of names must include the democrats that took the money to put fraud into the fiscal cliff bill along with the republicans who worked with the lobbyists. He must name the fraud and the corporations that are stealing from the people who actually pay their taxes. He must put in jail these criminals in our congress and court system who take bribes. Not the little guys, but the big shots. And this, he will not do. They never do that, except for real idiots, like Agnew.
 
 
+8 # X Dane 2013-01-20 16:59
bobby t.
You are correctly calling a spade a spade. What we have is a corrupt system.....That is because it takes money to run for ANY office. ALL the politicians are taking money from some people or corporations. That makes them beholden to the giver....Not to us.

WE pay the representatives from 150.000$ to 250.00$ for John Boener.. A YEAR..FOR 2 DAYS OF WORK........A WEEK???
The remaining days they are back in their district busily raising money!! And that starts, as soon as they are elected.

Something is very, very wrong here. Wouldn't you love having a job like that ....WITH health insurance AND pension even if they just serve ONE term??? The republicans want to cut??? There is something to cut here, Don't you think?
 
 
+30 # wwway 2013-01-20 12:30
The majority of Americans voted twice on our president's promises. By 2010 they had lost their resolve and stupidly voted for Republicans. The one step forward, 10 steps back approach to the change they wanted.
Republicans seized the opportunity with great gusto.
Americans took another step forward in November. I hope they have more resolve because our president can only do what he can and be as good as we are willing to work for.
It is true. Democracy is a process that ensures the people get the government they deserve.
So, do you Like arguments that appeal to your worst fears, jealousies and behavior with a supporting government? Do you like arguments that support your hopes and dreams and aspirations and the best in you and a government that supports that?
For more than 30 years I've heard Republicans describe Americans as lazy, no good for nothing, godless people. They demonize single mothers, poor people and NEVER appreciate that the maid that makes their hotel room bed is hard working poor. No one drove that home better than Tea Party at town halls. Gun toating, angry faces yelling how awful Americans are.
Democrats and Obama in particular tell us that we are great because we work hard, we are generous of heart, we persevere, we believe in the best in our selves, our neighbors. I hope we continue to honor that by taking back the House in 2014 and replacing all ill-will Republicans at state and local levels.
 
 
+8 # genierae 2013-01-20 16:03
Well said, wwway. Thank you.
 
 
+12 # X Dane 2013-01-20 17:22
wwway.
You touched om something insane. The T party yelled and screamed at the wrong People?? Remember they kept yelling: "Keep your hand off my medicare". That is what the REPUBLICANS want to take away.!!

It was not at all a grassroots movement. It was engineered by Dick Armey and financed by the Koch brothers. All the buses, signs and much more...Paid by the Kochs.
And unfortunately the ones voting for the republicans in 2010 did not see that the republicans were doing ALL they could to obstruct. NO NO NO.

They PROMISED that they would create jobs! But the only things they worked hard on was killing off abortion and women's right to health and reproductive care.

Unless you really WORK at being informed you do not realize HOW obstructive the republicans are. So help me they VOTED AGAINST their OWN proposals
 
 
+7 # wwway 2013-01-20 22:25
Yes XDane. I have two words to describe Tea Party folks. Hateful Ungrateful. There's a metaphor for Poor and Middle class Americnas who vote with the Party of the Rich (Republican) against their own interests. Chickens for Col. Sanders.

Jack London wrote a book called The Iron Heel. It was published in 1907. America's first dystopian novel...inspire d Orwell's 1984. London said that the 99% must always be vigilant of the message of the 1% and that they and the church control the message and social lies that we live by. You are right. One really has to WORK at being informed. 100 years later, London's advice has never been taken.
 
 
+15 # jazzman633 2013-01-20 12:39
I am a proud libertarian (not a gun nut) and favor minimal govt. But I find it very sad that even things the govt. could and should do to address the country's challenges (end the global empire, get control of the debt, take the lead in alternative fuels/energy independence, etc., etc.)...it is not doing, because all these career pooliticians care about is scoring points and getting reelected. How Obama is going to change that, I have no idea.
 
 
-36 # cordleycoit 2013-01-20 12:45
Obama is now in the morass of gun control trying to get more than is practical out of the bodies of the dead. It is one thing to tighten the rules on gun ownership, than cancelling an amendment which would be impossible.Libe rals came barking chasing tires and they've now caught one.There is now such thing as an assault weapon.There are millions of high capacity magazine around and the AR 15 is basically a low energy cartridge. Gun owners include many liberals and they will be crossing party lines. Liberals who demonize gun owners as kill crazed idiots are doing their cause no good. Calling racist on strangers is a bad idea. Telling doctors they have to violate their oath to protect their patients health record a worse idea.
Starting civil wars kills millions.
 
 
+8 # mnemosyne 2013-01-20 12:49
Destroy the GOP? Go for the throat? You sound like Cheney and Rumsfeld.

We are only as good as our competition make us. Joining in with violent metaphors is going to the other (dark) side.

We will transform America with will, compassion and intelligence.
 
 
0 # Trueblue Democrat 2013-01-20 13:04
Dickerson's article and most of the comments above mine presuppose that President Obama is a Democrat and one sincerely committed to the issues he raised and the stances he took on the campaign trail in 2008 and in 2012.

I am not that naive. His recent appointments (e.g. John Brennan to CIA and Jack Lew to Treasury), his continued war on whistle-blowers , his readiness to put Medicare and Social Security on the bargaining table, his stubborn defense of the indefensible (Bush, Cheney, NDAA 2012, Pat Riot Act, etc.) all tell me that he is no better and in many ways worse than that incredible ass he replaced.
 
 
-2 # X Dane 2013-01-21 17:11
trueblue Democrat.
I have, on this site, mentioned several times.....That if Obama had indicted Bush/Cheney. He would have caused an uprising....ONL Y half the country voted for him, the other half hate him.
He gets more than 30 death threats A DAY?

Obama was RATHER busy trying to prevent a full fledged deprecession. Do you NOT remember that??? Every month ...for several months... close to a million jobs were lost. We were all scared to death

It blows my mind that you and others can NOT understand THAT. It was terribly scary times. I very much want to see, not just the two but others also indicted.

But he would have blown the country apart. A country with MORE than 300.o00 000 GUNS??? and an awful lot of crazies itching for an excuse to use them.
THAT is why I gave you a red mark.

I an tired of having to point this out
 
 
0 # bmiluski 2013-01-22 09:48
The incredible ass he replaced put us into the mess that President Obama got handed to him. It was President Obama that kept us from going into a depression. That alone should get kudos from you.
 
 
-2 # Trueblue Democrat 2013-01-20 13:06
Dickerson's article and most of the comments above mine presuppose that President Obama is a Democrat and sincerely committed to the issues he raised and the stances he took on the campaign trail in 2008 and in 2012.

I am not that naive. His recent appointments (e.g. John Brennan to CIA and Jack Lew to Treasury), his continued war on whistle-blowers , his readiness to put Medicare and Social Security on the bargaining table. his stubborn defense of the indefensible (Bush, Cheney, NDAA 2012, Pat Riot Act, etc.) all tell me that he is no better and in many ways worse than that incredible ass he replaced.
 
 
-5 # Trueblue Democrat 2013-01-20 14:34
As usual, the readers who don't like my comments either don't have the backbone (like their hero in the White House) or the facts to support their argument, so they just give me a thumbs down but no reason for it. Do they dispute that Obama isn't nominating Brennan and Lew? Because he certainly is. Do they say that either of them are the kind of people that real Democrats want in government? They certainly are not? Do they like the fact that Obama didn't prosecute Bush, having said he would? Do they like the destruction to our Bill of Rights wrought by the passage of the Pat Riot Act and its renewal or the NDAA of 2012?

We just don't know what they object to. All we know is there are Obamacrats out there who don't want Obama's failures point out to them. They crawl out long enough to give me a thumbs down, but not long enough to state their argument. Or man enough.
 
 
+10 # NOMINAE 2013-01-20 17:03
Quoting Trueblue Democrat:
As usual, the readers who don't like my comments either don't have the backbone (like their hero in the White House) or the facts to support their argument, so they just give me a thumbs down but no reason for it. Do they dispute that Obama isn't nominating Brennan and Lew? Because he certainly is. Do they say that either of them are the kind of people that real Democrats want in government? They certainly are not? Do they like the fact that Obama didn't prosecute Bush, having said he would? Do they like the destruction to our Bill of Rights wrought by the passage of the Pat Riot Act and its renewal or the NDAA of 2012?

We just don't know what they object to. All we know is there are Obamacrats out there who don't want Obama's failures point out to them. They crawl out long enough to give me a thumbs down, but not long enough to state their argument. Or man enough.


My friend, you weaken your previously posted excellent points with this post kvetching about "thumbs". The "thumbers" have as much right to express their opinion, with or without accompanying files, briefs, and dissertions as you and I have to express our opinions in our own way.

Keep the well-reasoned, cogently written comments coming, and relax about the way some people will perceive them. That is beyond your personal control in any case. Just know that there are many readers out here sympathetic to your views as well.
 
 
+1 # A_Har 2013-01-23 16:55
I understand the frustration of TrueBlue. *Reality is a hard sell.*
 
 
-18 # Martintfre 2013-01-20 13:13
//On Monday, President Obama will preside over the grand reopening of his administration. It would be altogether fitting if he stepped to the microphone, looked down the mall, and let out a sigh: so many people expecting so much from a government that appears capable of so little //

AND COST SOO MUCH.
 
 
+8 # Smokey 2013-01-20 15:41
[quote name="Martintfr e"]//On Monday, President Obama will preside over the grand reopening of his administration. It would be altogether fitting if he stepped to the microphone, looked down the mall, and let out a sigh: so many people expecting so much from a government that appears capable of so little. AND COSTS SO MUCH."

In some ways, I can appreciate your comment. The expectations for Obama are enormous and probably unrealistic.
And the resources are always limited.

The big challenge is for progressives to
push for what's right - although some of our goals will take years to develop - while building a better Congress. (Which means that we have to find ways to limit big money influence in politics.)
 
 
+1 # mnemosyne 2013-01-20 13:28
Destroy the GOP? Go for the throat?

You sound like Cheney and Rumsfeld.

I thought we prided ourselves as being people who use will, compassion and intelligence to solve our problems.

Just because many GOP have abandoned compassion and intelligence is no reason for us to resort to violent metaphors.
 
 
+27 # DRPJJ 2013-01-20 13:29
The other day a suggestion was made that Obama quit allowing the GOP to call Social Security, Medicare and Education "entitlements," and instead put the Congressional pay and "their other benefits" on the table instead. If the economy is broke, its up to Congress not the President to fix it. If their pay is "on the table" it wouldn't be "partisan" and those that broke our system should be ousted, non-paid, for doing so. When does the buck finally stop where it belongs?
 
 
+4 # NOMINAE 2013-01-20 17:05
@ DRPJJ

Great comment, WONDERFUL idea ! Thanks !
 
 
0 # X Dane 2013-01-21 17:23
DRPJJ.
It would indeed be a great idea, for as I wrote above. Representatives get between 150.000 to 250.000$ (Boehner) a year for TWO DAYS OF WORK. The rest of the week they are fundraising in their district.

They also get health insurance, and a pension after "serving" just ONE TERM.

I certainly think something can be done
 
 
-21 # 4yourinformation 2013-01-20 13:39
This is a fantasy. There is NO WAY that Barack Obama is going to do any such thing. The Elitist Rich Man's Club will never allow one of the two parties to just disappear...UNL ESS, they were totally satisfied that the Dem Party could be counted on to turn its guns on the left flank of the Party and then establish once and for all an overt corporate singular Kremlin style Uberparty that would mop up the final remnants of democracy. Say goodbye to ALL of your Bill of RIghts then. Yeah....all those hideous guns will be taken away and then your 1st and 4th and 5th and all the Amendment RIghts will go right with em.

Altogether now, say.....Baaaaaa aaaaaaa!
 
 
+7 # reiverpacific 2013-01-20 16:31
Quoting 4yourinformation:
This is a fantasy. There is NO WAY that Barack Obama is going to do any such thing. The Elitist Rich Man's Club will never allow one of the two parties to just disappear...UNLESS, they were totally satisfied that the Dem Party could be counted on to turn its guns on the left flank of the Party and then establish once and for all an overt corporate singular Kremlin style Uberparty that would mop up the final remnants of democracy. Say goodbye to ALL of your Bill of RIghts then. Yeah....all those hideous guns will be taken away and then your 1st and 4th and 5th and all the Amendment RIghts will go right with em.

Altogether now, say.....Baaaaaaaaaaaaa!

You said it first and sooo well, how could it be improved on? It takes one to know one -can you say "Lemming"?
 
 
+1 # bmiluski 2013-01-22 09:56
For the love of God. Can you people not get it through your heads that no one is going to take away your gun unless its an assault rifles and the magazines that hold 15, 30 and even 100 rounds of ammo.
 
 
-5 # Terry5135 2013-01-20 13:43
I couldn't even read the piece. The title was all I could stand. I'm tired of filling myself, my time, my energy with the details of fantasyland. US liberals are brain dead - and I was one, it's not like I have time for the looney tunes republicans either. But as soon as I see a title by an American columnist about republicans or Obama/democrats battling with republicans, I opt out right there. I know they don't get it.

Here's the news, for those who are stuck in the map and can't find the territory - Obama can not declare war on republicans, they are on his side. Hello? Anyone home? Obama and republicans are house servants. You and I out out on the plantation. They may quibble over the placement of the dishes, but none of it means shit to you and me.

Is this so hard to understand? They.Are.On.The .Same.Side. Not YOURS!

I'm not religious particularly and I'm most certainly not a believer in anti-christs and the like, but in the last more than half a century, if there ever was anyone on the planet who fit the bill, it's Obama. Even Italian friggin socialist newspapers stopped accepting columns from the likes of John Pilger, once Obama got to power. Even Italian socialists - not the pretend, American type of socialist, but real socialists - didn't want to criticize this blatant fascist.

At best, he does what agencies and military tells him. No JFK, Barack Obama. Maybe he didn't want to die. At best. Personally, I think he belongs to the olgarchy and always has.
 
 
+1 # NOMINAE 2013-01-20 17:10
@ Terry5135

Thank you for the clarity and the *courage* of your comments !

Kudos, Dude ! :)
 
 
0 # A_Har 2013-01-24 08:24
You are correct. Obummer is a head fake. It people who voted for him in his first term haven't figured that out by now, they never will.

We had Bushbots during Bush's term and we have Obamatons for this one. That way people can pretend that the national leader does care about their cherished issues.

In the mean time our huge problems that are leading up to collapse--NOT going to be dealt with because there is no political will and it is not profitable:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-stein/the-perfect-storm-six-tre_b_582779.html
 
 
-32 # 4merlib 2013-01-20 13:46
Declare war on the Republicans? That is so passé. It is no secret that President Obama and his cabinet consider the Republicans the real enemy - not Al Qaeda, not the Chinese, not Putin, and so on and on - just whoever stands in the way of his assuming more and more power at home. His goal seems to be to tear this country apart so that he and his friends can "pick up the pieces." Not what we've grown used to expecting in a president. Transformationa l, indeed!
 
 
+22 # genierae 2013-01-20 16:16
Republicans ARE the real enemy and have been since Reagan. They are willing dupes of the corporate elites and they are implacable enemies of the people. Until we get them out of power this country will continue its downhill slide. Of course there are corrupt Democrats, but they can't begin to compare in degree with the crooked, low-down GOP, which has spent the last four years keeping this country from making any progress at all. They are an abomination.
 
 
+14 # DRPJJ 2013-01-20 13:50
Paying for not doing their jobs is counterproducti ve. Only big business gives golden parachutes when firing their ceo's. Maybe congress should work under "contract." Paid only when the task is accomplished. THAT would certainly put some fire under the table and keep Social Security, Medicare and Education off the table.
 
 
+12 # Gord84 2013-01-20 14:34
Obama should take a lesson from Harry "Give '
em hell" Truman. Harry went after the "do nothing 80th Congress" and won.
 
 
+1 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-20 15:09
Obama will not fight anyone unless:
1) He is fairly certain he can win.
2) The cause will not lose him favor among the ruling elite.
Example: His possible fight against the gun zealots. I write possible, because Obama is one leopard who can change his spots.

For reason 1) Obama attacks civilians with drones. No risky cost in US personnel. 2) Obama appointed another financial dummy, Jacob Lew, to replace the current dummy, Timothy Geithner. They have both been wrong in terms of protecting the public, but they are loved on Wall Street.

If you still have hopes for the "good" Obama, you are an inveterate loser.
 
 
-13 # tm7devils 2013-01-20 15:26
Here's a good comparison of where Obama is now:
Scene - Start of WWII.
Hitler: I want all of Europe!
US President: We won't bomb the shit out of you if you agree to half of Europe.
Hitler: OK, deal.
Yeh, that would have worked out...
 
 
+11 # Smokey 2013-01-20 15:58
FIRST: I don't want the President of the United States to declare war on any group. And I certainly don't want the President to declare war on fellow Americans. (That's Dick Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover stuff.)

SECOND: A few hours ago, I received a petition from "progressives" who are protesting against the costs of the Monday ceremonies for the Inauguration.

Huh? A petition that's circulated two days before the big event in Washington? (Do you think that, maybe, Obama will cancel the show if he hears enough protests?)

It's a mean-spirited and rather stupid petition. And it looks like the kind of scheme that a Karl Rove-type or Rush Limbaugh might develop.

I disagree with Obama on a long list of points. However, the man was reelected as President of the USA and he's entitled to his celebration. Compared to the Reagan and Bush festivals, what's planned for Monday is rather modest.

Enjoy the Inauguration and the Martin Luther King holiday.

NOTE TO OCCUPY: If you're not celebrating Martin Luther King's good work, what are you celebrating this weekend? Try to get involved with your community.
 
 
+1 # bmiluski 2013-01-22 09:59
Occupy is VERY involved in its community. They were the first responders during the aftermath of "Sandy". AND...they are still there volunteering with clean-up, food, clothing etc. distribution.
Next time before you dis someone....DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
 
 
0 # A_Har 2013-01-23 16:43
What you want or what I want from Obama is IRRELEVANT. This is a guy who signed the NDAA a little over a year ago that allows him to KILL American citizens without due process.

How anyone on either side of the asle can support him after that...like how can you???

He stood up at the inaugural swearing that he would support and defend the constitution of the USA that he has worked to GUT.

It is a LIE, and a sham. Let's call it what it IS.
 
 
+17 # drperkins 2013-01-20 16:45
There is NO WAY Bobby Jindal can fix the Republican party's image. He is destroying health care and education in Louisiana. He is the most regressive governor we've ever had. He's so inhumane that he cut out hospice care for the poor and is planning to replace the state's income tax with sales taxes which will significantly hurt the poorest among us the worst. Bobby Jindal is evil incarnate.
 
 
-9 # Charles3000 2013-01-20 17:43
The president could explain what is behind the biggest stand off on fiscal policy between the two parties; the differing views of economists who adhere to the Austrian School vs the ones who support the Keynes view of what government should do when the economy is depressed. While their views on fiscal policy are diametrically opposite, there is near agreement on good changes in monetary policy embedded in the so called "Chicago Plan" developed in the early 30s after the start of the great depression. Endorsed by Friedman in his young years and by the principals at the Austrian school, the plan represents a huge change in the monetary system that would reduce both national debt and personal debt and reduce the need for tax revenue by the government. It would be a good proposal for Obama to make to start a needed conversation about the monetary system and potentially bridge the gap between the warring economic factions in the two political parties.
 
 
+2 # flippancy 2013-01-21 10:58
Here's how to tell, liberals are 95% right, conservatives are 100% wrong. Quite simple and certain.
 
 
+12 # RHytonen 2013-01-20 18:25
I disagree.

What he needs to admit is that the real culprit is the Corporation - American business, and its power over government - Capitalist Fascism.

And he needs to admit -loudly, and clearly in these words- that government's ROLE is to be ANTI-BUSINESS, and protect the powerless individual and his democracy, against them and their demonstrated murderous greed.

'OUR' government needs to stop helping those who don't need it, and start taking SUBSTANTIALLY -Eisenhower levels- from them, to truly help ALL those who do need it, thanks solely to their greed.
 
 
+10 # Rick Levy 2013-01-20 20:10
Actually, President Obama doesn't have to waste time destroying the rethuglican party. All he needs to do is what he should have done in his first term, aggressively fight for programs compatible with the Democratic Party ideology the way FDR and LBJ did, and refuse to negotiate an inch with the radical right. Then if the GOP can't or won't get on board, it o will implode or self-destruct by itself.
 
 
+2 # wwway 2013-01-20 22:35
The GOP can't implode fast enough and Americans can't get health care reform that better than Obamacare soon enough fast enough.I don't know about you but I prefer that Democrats haggle over and hammer out our future. Americans better wise up. As long as Dems have to forge deals with Republicans corporations and lobbies will still get everything they want.
 
 
0 # 4merlib 2013-01-21 10:30
As far as dupes of the corporate elites . . . I don't know whom you consider elite, but last time I checked, most of the big corporation people were pretty cozy with Obama [while of course parking THEIR money overseas]. Unless, of course, you are talking about chick-fil-a maybe? Crooked? Can you say William Jefferson? Al Gore? Rod Blagojevich? Low-down? Can you picture John Edwards? Teddy Kennedy? Elliot Spitzer? Not sure whom you mean, but those are some of the names that come to mind.
 
 
0 # 4merlib 2013-01-21 20:03
Oh, this was a reply to you, Dear Genierae . . . don't know how it got all the way down here.
 
 
0 # Edwina 2013-01-22 10:13
It's about time. The people I know who voted for him in 2008 are wondering where he went.
 

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