Food Fight In The Old Family Dining Room
Anxious to hit the ground running with the newly-elected 114th Congress, President Obama invited leaders from both houses to join him in the White House’ Old Family Dining Room for a post-election lunch of herb-crusted sea bass and endive salad served up on the Truman china.
The idea, I’m sure, was to map out some common ground between the executive and legislative branches, moving into the final two years of Obama’s term, in the hope of getting something—anything, actually—done by 2016.
The gathering opened with some public comments, by Obama, on the importance of cooperation and breaking the partisan gridlock that has effectively hog-tied his administration. The president stated that he would be open to ideas from both sides of the aisle with the caveat that he would judge ideas based on whether they are likely to work or not.
Obama cited three measures—emergency funds to fight Ebola, approval of a federal budget, and appropriations to increase troops in Iraq—that he believes he and Congress could work on, together, before the end of the year.
Once the press was dismissed, however, the tone changed according to the usual anonymous leaks by the usual anonymous aides.
Unfortunately, power-drunk Republicans couldn’t resist the temptation to bait their host on immigration reform, saying they needed more time to work on legislation. Obama responded that his patience was wearing out and he made a point of his intent to take unilateral action if there was no attempt to ease deportations by the end of the year.
So, long before dessert was served, both sides had landed a few punches and the stage was set to continue the dialog in the media.
Sen John Cornyn (R-TX) had this to say:
The president instead of being contrite or saying in effect to America, ‘I hear you,’ as a result of the referendum on his policies that drove this last election, he seems unmoved and even defiant.
I don’t know why he would want to sabotage his last two years as president by doing something this provocative.
Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) used even more colorful language saying that Obama’s position was “like waving a red flag in front of a bull.”
There’s just so much silliness in those statements, I hardly know where to start . . .
Since June 2013 a bipartisan bill for comprehensive immigration reform S.744, has been sitting in the Senate waiting for the House to concur and get it to the president’s desk. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, Sen Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL.
For a year and a half, the Republican majority leadership in the House have refused to even put that bill to a floor vote (for fear it would pass), let alone work with it. In November 2013, Aviva Shen of ThinkProgress.com did an excellent timeline of all of the excuses that House Republicans used to put off immigration reform.
Their list included things like: the Boston Marathon bomber was an immigrant, the Obamacare employer mandate was delayed, and Obama’s refusal to negotiate during the shutdown hurt Republicans’ feelings—you get the idea.
And now Republicans are expecting “patience” and “contrition” from the President because of their new “mandate?”
I have to agree with Nancy Pelosi, who characterized this recent “Republican wave” as an “ebb.” In addition, I think there should be a rule that, any time less than 40% of the electorate votes, politicians are forbidden to talk about referendums or mandates.
For Republicans to believe that this past election is any sort of a national vote of confidence for their style of governance is simply ludicrous and flies in the face of any data on the topic for the past five years. In a poll conducted by the Washington Post/ABC News, last week, showed a record 72% of Americans disaprove of Republicans—hell, thirty-four percent of Republicans disapprove of Republicans.
I guess, like Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton, we’ll all just have to hold our noses for the next two years until the presidential electorate comes back into play and Senate Republicans will be defending 26 seats to Democrats’ 10.
RNC chair Reince Priebus, with his usual flair for upbeat marketing, is pretending to be looking forward to that election and, moreover, he says he’s thrilled at the notion of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic party nominee for president:
“I sure as heck hope we’re running against Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Priebus said at a breakfast with reporters on Friday. “What you just saw on Tuesday night was about as flat of a performance as you could have ever seen from the Democratic Party’s brightest star.”
Say what, Reince?
Republicans have been trying hard to convince themselves that Democrats didn’t hold onto the Senate because . . . Obama! but, also . . . Clinton! Rand Paul, with time on his hands, actually made a Facebook album featuring Hillary campaigning for several Democrats, creatively titled #Hillary’sLosers.
I, too, sure as heck hope you’re running against Hillary Clinton, Mr Priebus. Because you, sir are comparing apples to oranges. Three words for you: Off-year. Midterm. Turnout.
You might put on a happy face and pretend that these mid-term results have some correlation to the 2016 presidential election but you know, and I know, that Republicans have squat when it comes to standing someone up against Mrs Clinton.
Who do you have on that deep bench? Rand Paul? Paul Ryan? Scott Walker? Chris Christie? Jeb Bush? Ben Carson? Rick Perry? Mike Huckabee? Bobby Jindal? Mike Pence? Marco Rubio? Rick Santorum? John Bolton? Donald Trump?
Admit it, Reince, you don’t have what it takes.