The most conservative member of the House of Representatives—a teapartier’s teapartier—is a congressman from Colorado, Doug Lamborn.
Mr. Lamborn, showing little respect for the President of the United States, referred to Mr. Obama as a “tar baby.” Here is the context:
Even if some people say, ‘Well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,’ they will hold the President responsible. Now, I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and you can’t get away. I don’t want that to happen to us, but if it does or not, he’ll still get, properly so, the blame because his policies for four years will have failed the American people.
Now, Mr. Lamborn has apologized for the tar baby remark and is counting on the President to accept his apology, “because he is a man of character.”
Okay. But what about the real point of Mr. Lamborn’s comments? Read them again, forgetting the tar baby nonsense: The people will hold the President responsible for the economy so, “I don’t even want to have to be associated with him.” Obama will get “the blame.”
You see? That has been the strategy of Republicans since November of 2008. Mr. Lamborn said, “Some people say, ‘Well, the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,’ but “they will hold the President responsible.”
Republicans, as Mr. Lamborn and Mitch McConnell have been slyly honest enough to admit, have no intention of helping the President solve our nation’s problems. Far above anything else, they want to hinder and defeat him. Since Barack Obama was elected, Republicans in Congress have treated the matter like it were a heavyweight fight, pummeling him round after round, while the economy languishes.
Mr. Obama, on the other hand, has only occasionally thrown back punches, mostly hoping against hope that his rope-a-dope strategy of “compromise” and collegiality would mean a victory for the American people.
It hasn’t worked.
These are extraordinary times in our country, and we need leaders to match. Mr. Obama has to realize that the Republicans in Congress, despite his pleas, have made governing the country next to impossible and see their vow of obstinance as part of a strategy to win the next election, which is only a part of their greater fight to transform the country into a reactionary Tea Party utopia. We are already in the late rounds of that fight and the Republicans are winning.
The President needs to stop leading with his bipartisan chin. He’s getting the hell knocked out of him, and by extension, the rest of the non-moneyed class. He needs to understand that he will get no cooperation from the other side.
Thus, he needs to do more than just get himself reelected by courting independents with talk of compromise and collegiality with Republicans, which isn’t working. He also needs to fight hard for a Democratic Congress, or else nothing of substance will get done. He may win the 2012 election round but the fight with Republicans will continue.
Last night in Chicago, at a Democratic National Committee event, the President, a heavyweight campaigner, said some of the right things, but he also said things like this:
The good news is that after this week we have made a legitimate down payment on deficit reduction in a way that’s actually responsible, that is not going to dismantle our social safety net, isn’t going to prevent us from making the key investments we need to win the future.
Good news? There was no good news in the fiasco that just ended, and opinion polls reflect that. The President paid the other side’s ransom and the economy was saved this time from a disaster. Good news? Mr. Obama should stop talking this way because it is not fooling anyone, especially independent voters who he is trying to woo.
But it also sets the stage for what is going to be a singular debate over the next year and a half, and that is two alternative visions about where the country needs to go.
I give the other side credit. They are single-minded in their focus, in wanting to cut programs and shrink government.
He’s right, of course, about the alternative visions. But giving the “other side credit” is part of what’s wrong with Mr. Obama’s approach in the late rounds of this fight. The other side was willing to shoot the economy in the head—much as it is now doing with FAA funding—and to give them credit for such behavior is a little like giving The D.C. Sniper credit for a steady hand. It is misplaced and out of tune with the moment.
He needs to start, loudly and incessantly, calling Republicans out for what they have done and were willing to do to the average American. He needs to start naming names.
Fight! Mr. Obama. With both hands. With both feet. With both sides of your considerable brain.
And if you get knocked out of the ring in 2012, so be it. You can proudly exit the arena, covered in sweat and blood, through the front door.