Published On: Fri, Jul 29th, 2011

It’s Obama’s (de)Fault

by Russell Halley

The mind reels from watching this week’s political Theater of the Absurd.  All the attention was on the House where a  stubborn group of Tea Partiers seemed to flirt with defeat when victory was in their grasp. This is written Friday night just after the amended Boehner bill passed 218-210.  All day long the talking heads heaped vitriol and venom on those that  pushed this fight to the very edge, and The President himself launched and encouraged a massive Twitter, email and call-in assault on the Republicans.

It’s easy to understand the frustration with these holdouts, and the country is  sick of the debate. Most seemed to agree with the concept that the  failure to raise the debt ceiling would  result in a credit downgrade, higher interest rates, plunging markets, further economic depression and instability.  I’m glad this bill passed, but I thank the Tea Partiers for changing the conversation.

Remember where this started: we’ve gone from the maniacal Obama/Reid/Pelosi spending spree of the last two years, to Obama’s empty State of the Union promise of a $400 billion freeze over ten years, to a budget deal that at least started to change the direction.

But why are the House Republicans doing all the work?

Here are the impassioned remarks Speaker Boehner delivered just before Friday’s vote:

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the President of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile,” Boehner said. “This House has acted and it is time for the administration and our colleagues across the aisle,  put something on the table! Tell us where you are!” 

While imperfect, today’s vote is the third serious action by the House Republicans this year,  coming after the passage of the tough Ryan budget and the Cut, Cap and Balance bill that passed last week.   John Boehner must be the hardest working man in Washington.

Compare this to the cowardice of the House Democrats who have done nothing but sit on their hands to make political statements out of touch with economic reality and the mood of the electorate, or Reid’s Senate Democrats who haven’t even proposed a budget in more than two years and whose single contribution this week was to issue a letter saying “no way” to the House bill before it had even passed, all while the country slides towards meltdown.

Yet despite all that, it is the White House performance that has been most stunning in it’s ineptitude and ineffectiveness.  Obama has used his bully pulpit to bludgeon the opposition without ever putting his own plan on the table and has made demagogic appeals filled with lies and distortions to his dwindling base of supporters.

If Obama doesn’t want default, why didn’t the White House whip the Democrats in the House to pass the Boehner bill and help send it to the Senate for debate and amendment?  Since Reid has nothing, it would seem that any bill passed by the House would be a starting point to create a bill that the congress could pass and the President could sign.  There is a growing sentiment that what’s really going on behind the curtains in the Oval Office is nothing but obfuscation, a plan to ensure legislative failure so that Obama can blame the Republicans for the impasse, take extralegal executive action of dubious constitutionality, extend the ceiling long enough to get past the 2012 election, and make the false claim that it was HE that saved the country from meltdown.

Democrats in the Senate are fuming at the lack of leadership from the White House, but they tabled the Boehner bill in record time. Now we’ll see the next act in the drama as Harry Reid goes to work to try and gut the House plan. It’s more clear than ever that we need a new majority in the Senate and a new President, one who is qualified for the challenges of the office.

After what must have been a torturous week, Boehner has not only called the bluff, but raised the bid as well.  No one will be tagged with a failure to meet the country’s obligations and the downgrading of its credit rating but the President himself.

About the Author

- Russell Halley is a lifelong political voyeur. Halley started writing for weekly newspapers in the early 70's, and advanced to a successful career as a freelancer, having been published in several national magazines. Eventually, however, the call of commerce lured him away and he switched to circulation, working with many of the largest publishers around the world to increase readership. As an avocation, Russell has always followed and participated in the minutia of the political world, and migrated from a severe left wing point of view to conservatism. He was flattered when the San Jose Mercury News once described his style as “Republican Punk”, and prides himself on a certain expertise in this arena, with a perspective that he hopes sheds light on the issues of the day. Read more of Halley's clips here.