Saturday, April 16, 2011

Obama caught in the act of being honest

OBAMA: Speaking the truth?
Perhaps it is something about setting foot in the Chicago metropolitan area that brings out the ability of political people to just say what’s on their mind.

I still remember the moment from a decade ago when then-candidate George W. Bush got caught on a microphone referring to a New York Times reporter who showed up for that year’s End of Summer event in Naperville (heaven forbid they celebrate Labor Day like everybody else) as a “major league asshole.”

TO WHICH RUNNING mate (and later Vice President) Dick Cheney responded, “yeah, big time.”

Was anyone really shocked that Bush would not be pleased with someone who could see through the veneer of competence he tried putting up to overcome his callow nature?

If anything, it is in that same context that I view the latest political gaffe of someone saying something that got caught on a microphone. President Barack Obama, while in Chicago for his fundraising efforts, went on a little diatribe that made it clear he IS disgusted with the people whose politically partisan games are aimed squarely at him.

I’d be concerned if Obama really was as mellow as the public persona he always tries to put forward. It was nice to see that on some level, the political tactics being used against him are registering. Despite what the conservative ideologues want to believe about a radical president, I was starting to wonder if Obama was too willing to compromise his beliefs to be an effective leader.

IT SEEMS THAT what has Obama miffed is the fact that Republican partisans want to undo the reform of health care that was a major part of his work during his first two years in office. Not that it’s going to happen – the Democrat-controlled Senate would stand in the way of anything the GOP-run House of Representatives would try to pass.

Plus, Obama himself still has that “veto” power to stop bad things from getting pushed into law by a partisan Congress. (As Mel Brooks used to say, “It’s good to be the king!”)

BUSH: The potty mouth?

As captured by CBS News, Obama said privately to people near him Thursday night, “I said, ‘you want to repeal health care? Go at it. We’ll have that debate. You’re not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?”

He also was upset about the fact that Republican partisans in the House tried to take out their ideological opposition to a woman being able to abort a pregnancy by trying to disguise it as financial matters and budgetary concerns.

OBAMA ALSO WAS critical of Rep. Paul Ryan, a budget committee chair who has led much of the rhetoric during the stalemates that nearly resulted in a shutdown of the federal government (which some ideologues were more than willing to do because they were desperate to believe that people would blame Obama for their own stubborn streak).

As Obama described Ryan in what he thought was private, “this is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill, but wasn’t paid for.”

Now I’m sure that some ideologues are going to claim that it is disrespectful for Obama to talk negatively about their ideals and to mention Ryan by name. I’m sure there are some people who are going to say that Thursday night in Chicago was some sort of significant moment that exposes Obama for what he truly is.

You know what. They’d be correct.

WHEN OUR PRESIDENT gets p’o-ed and says what he really thinks, he thinks in detail about specific policies and criticizes a specific official for his actions. Can anyone really say that Ryan didn’t do the things that Obama said he did?

RYAN: Will he arrogantly demand an apology?
We can argue whether or not it was appropriate for Ryan to act in such a way. But I don’t read anything coming out of his mouth that he’d actually have to apologize for – unless you believe that the ideologues of the world are entitled to complete deference, which is about as un-American thought as one could express.

It’s certainly on a higher level than George Bush showing us his mind resorts to profanity when he sees someone who has been less than deferential to him (and that was the reaction of the right back in 2000 when Bush spoke – they tried claiming that his critics deserved to be thought of in such a manner).

Obama certainly didn’t give us a one-liner that deserves to be remembered in the microphone gaffe “Hall of Fame.”

IN FACT, IF not for the fact that the ideologues are going to want to make something of this moment, it would be the ultimate non-issue.

Unless you believe that a politician who speaks the truth is such a rarity that we ought to treat every such utterance as an historic occasion.


No comments: