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.