Friday, January 30, 2009

Barack Obama is going to learn that not everybody in D.C. will love him

Perhaps it is a good thing that President Barack Obama received a few political blows this week.

There needs to be a reality check for those people who see the rise of Obama from a lowly state legislator from the South Side to Leader of the Free World as some sort of moral crusade.

THERE ARE GOING to be people who are going to view Obama and his followers as “the opposition.” For whatever reason, they are going to resist the goals of an urbane chief executive (I guess they just don’t realize how fortunate we are to have a Chicagoan in charge). And Obama types are going to have to show they can engage in the world of partisan politics just as much as the lowliest hack.

There are those people who are viewing the House of Representatives’ action this week on the Obama-desired stimulus package as an Obama defeat. Some are going so far as to boast that Obama is a “loser” on what is his first significant measure as president, and what will be one of the most significant acts he takes during his four-year term in office.

The reason they are quick to label House approval as a defeat is because it went purely on a partisan political vote.

Two hundred forty-four members of Congress (all Democrats) voted for the measure, with 188 congressmen (all Republicans) opposed to the idea.

THAT VOTE CAME despite Obama’s attempts to persuade at least a few Republican legislators to support his desire for an $825 billion package that is meant to give the U.S. economy a big enough jolt that business can resume more or less as usual.

Was Obama naïve in thinking that he could get members of the GOP faithful to support something that their ideologue colleagues would lambast as tax hikes and more big government run amok?


Personally, my favorite snitty little quip came from Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., who noted the 627 pages of the bill outlining the stimulus package, saying that it amounted to an average of “$1.18 billion for every single page in the bill.”

BUT WHILE I think it likely will take a drastic measure such as what Obama is proposing to shake the U.S. economy out of its current troubles, it doesn’t surprise me to learn that many people in this country will disagree.

The fact is that while former President George W. Bush left office with approval ratings ranging around 26 percent, the conservative ideals that he espoused when he came into office remain popular with a sizable amount of the U.S. population.

There also is the fact that there were people who were ABO (Anybody But Obama) during the 2008 campaign season who haven’t swung over to the Obama camp. They will be willing to give those lawmakers who voted against a stimulus package their moral support.

In fact, I still wonder how long it will be before some opportunistic political person tries to feed off the mood of these people and become an outspoken voice of Congressional opposition to the Obama program?

NOT JUST THE stimulus package (which Democrats are going to have to use their authority to pass on their own), but everything.

Obama may talk about change and hope, but there are enough people who are willing to use the old ways of partisan political hardball to try to achieve their goals – or to prevent the opposition from doing much of anything until a future election comes along when they can try to ram their agenda into law.

It wasn’t just Republicans in the House who were willing to dump on Obama.

Let’s not forget that the president had been urging that Congress approve a four-month extension in the deadline in which television stations convert themselves to a digital signal, which will make older televisions without special converter boxes obsolete.

OBAMA WANTED THE extension, saying too many people were confused about what was going on and were not ready for a change on Feb. 17 (less than three weeks away). The Senate went along with the request, but the House refused.

So much for the concept of “Saint Obama” who can get his political “allies” to do whatever he wants.

Of course, it wasn’t just on Capitol Hill that people were willing this week to express their opposition to Obama. It didn’t even have to be an issue of historic significance to cause political snit fits.

Take the so-called “crisis” of Obama speaking out against the District of Columbia schools, which closed at the first sight of ice on streets in the capital city. People from the district were upset that Obama implied they were wimps compared to people from Chicago.

“WE’RE GOING TO have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town,” Obama said, when learning his daughters had classes cancelled due to winter weather.

School officials in the capital city were upset that anyone from outside the area questioned their judgment about when to close schools, implying that perhaps it is Chicago – where classes haven’t been cancelled for winter weather in a decade – that is odd.

An official with the private Sidwell Friends school (where Obama’s daughters attend) made a wisecrack to the Washington Post, the punchline of which is that Obama doesn’t really understand winter weather because he went to school in Hawaii.

Personally, I agree with Obama. The District of Columbia could use some “Chicago toughness.” So could much of the rest of the country, particularly those southern goofs who come to the real world (where it snows) and insist on thinking they can drive in icy January like they’re on the Indianapolis 500 racetrack


EDITOR’S NOTES: Obama-mania has some political people who were never ( infected.

I never realized (heavy sarcasm intended) that Chicago roads didn’t get icy during the winter ( I guess I just imagined all those motorists who in recent weeks I saw skid on our local streets.

Who will get the blame when some person who refuses to ditch their decades-old television set (“it still works,” they say) no longer picks up a viewable ( signal?

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