Off the Rails

Excuse this rant, but I’ve had it.

According to my husband, his father hated FDR. But when some of the people watching newsreels in a theater booed the President, he was appalled, because “back in the day,” whatever your opinion of the person, Americans believed in showing respect for the office.

People serving in Congress in times past were undoubtedly just as political, just as self-dealing, as those who are there now, but for most of American history, it was understood that disagreements with the Commander-in-Chief stopped at the water’s edge.

What we are seeing during the Obama Presidency isn’t “loyal opposition.” We are seeing shameful, childish and above all, profoundly unAmerican behavior.

Various commenters have suggested that the disrespect and hostility shown to this president are little different than the partisan attacks on Clinton and Bush. That simply isn’t true: while both of those individuals aroused intense feelings (and often boorish behaviors), the animus pales in comparison to what Obama has faced. Furthermore, much of the opposition those Presidents faced was triggered by their own actions; in Clinton’s case, his inability to keep his pants zipped, and in Bush’s, his decision to engage in a costly war of choice.

Obama has faced implacable hatred from Day One.

Political Animal listed just a few of the ongoing, unprecedented expressions of disdain for this President:

* Shouting “You lie!” in a speech to a Joint Session of Congress,
* Refusing to accept the date for a speech about job creation to a Joint Session of Congress.
* Negotiating a speech to Congress from a foreign head of state behind the President’s back.
* Seeking to undermine U.S. negotiations with a foreign country by writing a letter to their head of state. (This, in my view, was close to treasonous.)
* Refusing to even hold a hearing on the President’s proposed budget.
* Tossing the President’s proposal to shut down Guantanamo Bay Prison in the trash (and videotaping the process).
* Refusing to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee before the President has even named one.

Yesterday, a couple of commenters suggested that the refusal to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee was no different from previous posturing by Democrats–just “politics as usual.” But verbal posturing by a couple of Senators who subsequently discharged their constitutional duty is significantly different from the united refusal of GOP Senators to uphold the Constitution and do their jobs.

At Political Animal, Nancy LeTourneau posted a sentiment with which I entirely agree:

As Josh Marshall says about the latest example of refusing to hold hearings on the President’s Supreme Court nominee, it is “a culmination of Republican efforts not simply to block Obama’s policies but to delegitimize, degrade and denigrate his presidency and the man himself.” That was essentially my reaction when I first heard of their plans.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, Congressional Republicans have adamantly refused to support programs that would have been uncontroversial during any other administration–including initiatives that they themselves originally developed–simply because this President proposed them.

David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, represents the Republican party I once knew–a party that no longer exists. He recently wrote that despite disagreements with the President, he would miss him: 

Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.

To that, I would add dignity and grace in the face of constant efforts to diminish and degrade him.

One final point before I conclude this rant: to those who deny that racism motivates much of this despicable treatment of the President, who insist it’s just partisan politics as usual, I suggest you open your eyes and ears. Obama has been demonized as “other” since he took office. Birthers have questioned his citizenship, and anti-Muslim Republicans still insist he’s Muslim.  The current crop of GOP Presidential candidates has channeled the racism and xenophobia, enthusiastically accepting endorsements from white supremacists and unapologetic racists. A recent New York Times Poll found that 20% of Trump supporters believe that Lincoln should never have freed the slaves.

The GOP is off the rails, and its behavior is inexcusable, racist and detrimental to America.


  1. Well said, Sheila. I agree with your every word…thanks for expressing it clearly and directly. Keep up the fight!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. This is racism pure and simple. But it’s also mixed with the actual hatred for liberals that has been perpetrated by Fox News and its illiterate and morally bankrupt viewership. This liberal hatred goes back a little before Obama’s time but combined with racism, it’s terrible and destructive.
    And he isn’t even a liberal.
    And he is bi-racial. And he could’ve been the best president ever .
    And that’s what they were afraid of so they sold the whole country out. Pathetic. This is why we need a political revolution.

  3. An effective leader sets the tone for those being led. I’m an Independent. I voted for Obama twice. I’ve been disappointed in the childishness & pettiness he has helped to promote. As long as both parties & everyone else keeps looking at the governing of our Country from a reality, tabloid show point of view, we’ll elect Donald Trump, a master at the nastiness our society seems to revel in. I’ll vote Republican this year. So far, a Democrat hasn’t emerged capable of making this Country relevant in the future. Republicans aren’t a whole lot better, but at least they represent the next generation of politics. Out with the old; in with the new. Things MUST change & the time is NOW.

  4. Barbara:

    Is a parent promoting the whims and tantrums of a child if they refuse to give the child what they want?

    I agree that the Democrats have no vision, but the Republican vision is globalization and the destruction of the middle class. Go visit a country like El Salvador and see what that’s like before you vote for them.

  5. I am frightened by the lack of moderation and the incivility on both sides of the political debate in US government and between friends, neighbors and politicians.

    I’ m not “political” but feel a responsibility to stay informed through civil discourse and cleared-headed exajharlow01mination to help decided the outcome of the upcoming elections. Right now we’re all engaged in a national shouting match in which no one listens. People I know and respect have closed their ears to any view different from their own. In my own home, where we actually agree on racial and political issues, civility often ends in shouting. How does this kind of approach make it possible for anyone to make an educated and logical decision. I’m afraid we’ve been “off the rails” for quite a while. We need to remedy a lot of things beside our behavior involving politics.

  6. When this country of whiners remember the principles this country was founded on; when it is remembered who is the ultimate head of all, when we remember where every race and ethinic group came from, when we truly remember to know anything of value we must have love and compassion for our neighbors then, and 0nly then will this country began to heal from our self made brokenness, greed, lust for power control and wealth.

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