As usual, Bob Cesca captures exactly how I feel.
More often than not, I've attempted to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt, both in terms of policy and politics. That's not to say I've embraced every idea -- I most certainly haven't. But even when I've vocally disagreed with a policy position, I've attempted to see the wisdom and pragmatism behind the president's choices.I don't think I've ever been so pessimistic about our future.
But this week I have no blessed clue what the hell he's up to. I've tried to look at this from every angle and each one leads me back to weak, weak, weak.
He's following rules that no longer exist, pandering to voter attitudes that will have zero consequence in terms of both his approval numbers and his reelection chances. He's completely off the rails -- well beyond any notion of post-partisanship. In fact, if his intention has been to "change the way Washington does business," he's currently and epically failing because I simply can't believe that the new and improved way is this way.
Within roughly 24 hours, President Obama preemptively capitulated to the Republicans and proposed an unabridged GOP idea -- freezing federal worker salaries, then, almost as if on cue, the Senate Republicans put their unflinching childish obstructionism in writing and pledged to block everything unless the president extends the deficit-ballooning Bush tax rates. And in that mix, the Republicans blocked extensions of unemployment benefits. Twice.
In other words, the Republicans have constructed a political and media machine that allows them to function with impunity. All of cable news is packed wall-to-wall with Republicans who robotically repeat the same false, fact-free ideas over and over -- and they're given complete latitude because of the press's self-flagellation over the "liberal media" myth. They've managed to guilt the press into supporting and repeating unvarnished bullshit like "tax cuts stimulate the economy and unemployment benefits don't" and "allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will hurt jobs" and "the stimulus didn't work" and "the Democrats are spending us into oblivion." None of that is true. The Bush tax rates for the wealthy don't stimulate the economy, but unemployment benefits do. The Bush tax cuts haven't created any jobs in ten years, and middle class wages have stagnated. The stimulus worked (not well enough, but it worked). And the Democrats slashed the budget deficit by record numbers.
The Republicans are on television every day admitting that their entire goal is simply to screw the president by sabotaging the economic recovery. This is unbelievable. Eight years ago, these were the same people who insisted that merely criticizing the commander-in-chief during wartime would endanger the troops. Now these same bastards are not just criticizing the president, but they're questioning his religion, his citizenship, his loyalty to America -- and they're endeavoring, as their primary goal, to make him fail by dragging the economy down. They're doing this by filibustering policies that stimulate economic growth (unemployment benefits, for example), while promoting ideas that don't stimulate economic growth at all (Bush tax rates, for example).