Tour de Farce

February 1st, 2010

In contrast to President Obama’s stellar performance described in my earlier post, the members of the Republican Caucus made a somewhat less striking impression of themselves—so much so that Fox News, which was carrying the broadcast live in happy anticipation of Obama’s drubbing by the ascendant Republicans, cut it off partway through (the only network carrying the meeting to do so), and then rejoined for the Republican leadership statements in their entirety. As reported on Keith Olbermann (watch video below), some Republican participants afterwards regretted that they’d agreed to let the cameras in. Still, in spite of some farcical  “questions” by Republicans during the meeting by some of the caucus members (in reality, many of those “questions” were talking points with attempts to get the President to trap himself), the Republican leadership was relatively conciliatory both before and after the meeting.  Boehner and Mike Pence still both trumpeted the GOP blueprint (Boehner even waived it around a little, while criticizing the “thousand page bills” that the Dems have come up with), but I guess for them, this still counts as bipartisan. Cantor didn’t talk specifics, but seemed the most open of the three responding House Republican leaders.

     Might Republicans have realized that they’ve pushed the “Party of No” thing too hard and be coming around (viz. Some Republicans Fret That Opposition To New Obama Measures Could Seriously Backfire, Huffington Post 1/29/10). If, however, the GOP’s performance in the Senate on the day of the meeting is any indication (viz. No yes men in the Senate, Washington Post 1/29/10), then those faint stirrings of reduced Republican intransigence may be nothing but a farce.

“”It was the kind of discussion that we frankly need to have more of.” — House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia

 “The President acknowledged the fact that House Republicans have offered better solutions over the last year – putting to rest once and for all baseless claims by party operatives that Republicans are the ‘party of no.’  In the course of the discussion, President Obama repeated discredited talking points on a number of topics, including the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ and a government takeover of health care.” — Press release titled “Rhetoric versus reality: President Obama repeats discredited talking points during dialogue with House GOP” issued by House Minority Leader John Boehner after the meeting

“I doubt this will be a regular occurrence – too much risk for both sides. But it has left an indelible impression on those who pay attention of perhaps how things will work when the GOP takes over in November.” – GOP strategist John Feehery (quoted by Washington Post)

“I think open dialogue between the president and Republicans is positive — and a lesson that the speaker could take from President Obama… But I don’t think it’s going to suddenly lead to broad agreement on a range of policy issues. Our fundamental problem is that we think he’s wrong on what policies are best for America, not that we don’t see him enough.” – Republican strategist Alex Vogel (quoted by Washington Post)

      Obama met with House Republicans in Baltimore,

Their support to save the country to implore.

Did they listen? I don’t know.

(They have a hard time doing that, you know.)

     The GOP didn’t originally want to let cameras in,

But the White House stood firm, and Republicans gave in.

They came to the meeting loaded for bear,

With talking points disguised as questions by some of their most doctrinaire.

     “Thank you for acknowledging that we have ideas on health care,” Marsha Blackburn began,

Then went on and on about the GOP’s healthcare plan.

She added snide references to “Democrat” leadership and “Democrat” government

(When “Democrat” is used as an adjective, it’s as an insult meant).

     But as Christ Matthews pointed out on Olbermann’s show

(To see his comments, watch the video below),

The GOP had eight years to implement their so-called solutions.

Why didn’t they turn them into Congressional Resolutions?

     Some of the questioners didn’t evidence as much ill intent

(Peter Roskam even gave Obama a compliment).

Many just seemed to be angry they’d been ignored,

And blamed it on Pelosi (she was repeatedly deplored).

     Could it be that if they’re given more attention

They wouldn’t try to foment as much dissension?

Could it be that if House Republicans were more gently coddled

Democratic initiatives wouldn’t be as automatically throttled?

     But if Senate Republican actions on that day are any indication,

Then we’re in for lots more extreme bifurcation.

In response to Obama’s call to “work through” disagreements,

They only increased the scope of their dissents.

     The Senate was voting to extend the federal debt ceiling,

Failure of which would have sent the economy reeling

(A US federal government default

Would all domestic and foreign lending halt).

     How did the Senate GOP react

When it came time this urgent legislation to enact?

Because Democrats had proposed it,

Every single Republican opposed it.

     The Federal Government’s default would have made the Great Depression

Seem like a minor indiscretion.

But third world countries repudiate their debt all the time.

Is turning us into one of them what Republicans have in mind?

     The Senate then considered whether Pay-go to restore

(Since Clinton, it hadn’t been done any more).

That requires Congress to pay for all legislation passed

(A big reason Clinton his surpluses amassed).

     How did that vote go?

(Republicans are big on fiscal responsibility, you know.)

But contrary to my presupposition,

Republicans were unanimous in their opposition.

     That all happened by noon:

Republicans were more cooperative in the afternoon.

When it came time to re-appoint Bush’s Fed Chair Bernanke,

Opposition remained, but was a little more low-key.

     Renewal of a Bush appointee sounds like bipartisan cooperation,

And continuity as in the best interest of the Nation.

The only Republican to oppose him before was Jim Bunning,

But this time Republicans were more politically cunning.

     When the reappointment came to a vote, 18 Republicans opposed it

(Again, because the Dems had proposed it).

Never mind that the market would have tanked if he’d been rejected

(I guess doing what’s best for the country isn’t why they were elected).

     Jim DeMint (R-SC) said reappointment would “doom our fellow Americans to high unemployment,”

Though he’d supported what caused the recession with enjoyment.

Sam Brownback (R-KS) said Bernanke focused on Wall Street rather than Main Street needs.

Strange, since he never previously minded corporate misdeeds.

     Do they really think Bernanke caused the recession?

Based on their votes and statements, you’d get that impression.

Unless you think these guys have morphed into anti-corporate populists,

It seems that whatever Dems do, the GOP resists.

     Senator Kyl (R-AZ), with whom I don’t often agree

Was one of the Republicans voting for Bernanke.

But even his opinion was adverse

(He was just worried Obama would chose someone even worse).

     While the Senate GOP seems to have rejected Obama’s peace offering,

We have to wait and see what his effort in the House will bring.

Maybe their meeting will change things

(And maybe pigs will grow wings).

     As Obama provided many examples of in Baltimore,

House Republicans haven’t been very bipartisan before.

They’ve even opposed things they used to support,

The Dems’ political agenda to attempt to thwart.

     Chances aren’t good, if Boehner’s press release is any indication

(It was loaded with misleading “facts” and partisan indignation).

Boehner claimed Obama admitted GOP solutions were better in his litany’s recital,

Because Obama said the words “better solutions” when reading the document’s title.

     But for now, I’m willing to give Republicans a (small) benefit of the doubt

(After all, that’s hope and change are all about).

Even though the evidence that they can change is sparse,

I still hope they don’t continue their obstructionist farce.

***

Here’s the Republican leadership after the Jan. 29 meeting with Obama.

Here’s Fox News cutting away from the Q&A session.

Here’s video of the meeting itself.

Here’s Rachel Maddow on Keith Olbermann commenting about the Republican performance.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here’s Jon Stewart’s 2/01/10 report on the meeting.

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Comments

11 Responses to “Tour de Farce”

  1. Flyer Says:

    This was one of the president’s best performance since taking office. He patiently listened to the Republican talking points, then answered them with straightforward facts. The part I liked best was when he reminded them that he had endorsed a proposal co-sponsored by 7 Republicans ( led by McCain) for a commission to study entitlements and make recommendations. When the 7 co-sponsors realized Obama actually accepted the idea, they withdrew their support.

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