Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not So Lame Duck

That's President Barack Obama signing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law. And with that signing, another major legislative accomplishment has been achieved at a time when no one thought anything would get done.

This lame duck session of Congress hasn't been so lame. And some would say that this is not an appropriate time to pass such sweeping legislation, when clearly after such an overwhelmingly Democratic defeat in the last election showed that the American people were not happy with the Democratic agenda. Those "some" would be 100% wrong. America didn't reject the Democratic agenda. America was reacting to the growing frustration of an economy that is recovering much too slowly for their taste because we are an impatient people. Voters are responding to a stagnant unemployment rate that isn't coming down fast enough as they can't pay their bills, are losing their homes and are struggling to make ends meet. Anyone in office, whether Democrat or Republican, would have felt the blowback. That has absolutely nothing to do with the repeal of DADT, or the yet to be passed 9/11 responders bill, or the soon to be passed START Treaty with Russia.

What should enrage voters, but you'll never see a poll verifying it, is the obstructionist Republican party doing anything they can to delay, stall and prevent any significant legislation from passing for fear that it amounts to another feather in President Obama's cap. They claim they're ready to "do the people's work," and do anything but, including moaning about working during the holidays, as 99% of the rest of the country does.

If Republicans are representing the American people, why on earth would they be delaying ratification of a treaty that every past and present national security advisor and military leader says is important for our security? Why, after wrapping themselves in a patriotic blanket of 9/11 for these last nine years, did Republicans block legislation to help 9/11 first responders who are literally dying of the aftereffects of breathing in the toxicity they slogged through to help their fellow Americans? Why did Republicans fight tooth and nail against the repeal of DADT, even though the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thought it was time to end this flawed policy; why, despite nearly a year of study to review the affects of military morale and readiness after a possible DADT repeal, was that study no longer good enough? Why did they want a study of the study?

The truth of the matter is that this has nothing to do with ideology or morals or ethics. The stonewalling of the Republican party of almost every piece of legislation (over 400 filibusters in the last two years) and the blockage of scores of executive appointments to vacancies in government positions that desperately need to be filled for the proper running of the country is all about preventing anything that could affect President Obama in a positive way.

They've said it themselves. Senator Jim DeMint wanted healthcare reform to be the President's "Waterloo." Senator Mitch McConnell categorized preventing a 2nd presidential term for Obama as their No. 1 priority. How can these politicians think they can be taken seriously when they complain about the President's "lack of bipartisanship" when these are the typical statements made? Bipartisanship and compromise work both ways, something the GOP continually fails to understand, or at least their actions and rhetoric makes it seem so.

But ultimately, for a Congress that pushed back at the White House continually, this President's accomplishments if his first two years rivals that of any other president.  Rachel Maddow's piece last night puts it all in perspective.

Imagine how much more could have been accomplished with an opposition party focused on governing rather than obstructing.

UPDATE (3:28pm): START Treaty was just ratified in the Senate 71-26. Also, the Senate approved a workable 9/11 Health Care bill for first responders.

No comments: