Barack Obama’s campaign pitch as a post-partisan leader was never sincere, but his obnoxious posturing in the wake of Republicans’ shutdown surrender has made the joke downright sick.
House Republicans fully funded everything except ObamaCare. All it would have taken to prevent the shutdown was a “yes” from Harry Reid and a stroke of Obama’s pen. Yet even while demonizing Republicans for the distress of furloughed workers, neglected patients, and abused tourists, he all but admitted he was the one deliberately continuing it because “if there’s no political heat, if there’s no television story on it, then nothing happens.”
And all on behalf of a law the American people have consistently and overwhelmingly told Washington they don’t want since the day it passed, a law that we’re now seeing was assembled even more shoddily than ObamaCare’s biggest skeptics imagined.
As the evidence piles up that “Patient Protection and Affordable Care” is the opposite of the Act’s actual results, Obama’s lies about opponents’ intentions have only gotten nastier—see, for instance, his sneer that “they don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away.” How comforting it is to know that no straw man is too petulant and dishonest for the leader of the free world.
And why would Republicans make such cold-blooded demands? Because, in Obama’s telling, “the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict” made them do it. Pay no attention to the employers cutting positions and hours to comply with new mandates. Just ignore the Americans enraged to see their premiums doubling. Pretend not to hear the doctors warning their jobs are going to get a lot harder. Sincere dissent from Obama’s vision simply doesn’t exist; it’s all a scam for cash and ratings.
Nor does Obama respect that House conservatives were actually doing their constitutional duty. He whined that the shutdown was “not what the founders of this nation envisioned,” and that by denying him funds for ObamaCare (a program with no constitutional authority to exist in the first place, since we’re on the subject), Republicans were actually “break[ing] what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country’s about.”
It would be scandalous enough for any president to attack the concept of checks and balances, something the average public school still manages to teach, but it’s doubly insufferable coming from one who used to teach constitutional law. In Article I, Sections 7 and 9, the Constitution gives Congress the power to decide what to fund for the express purpose of checking an errant executive branch. Far from violating the Founders’ vision, House conservatives were faithfully using what James Madison called in Federalist 58 “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance.”
And because those lies and insults didn’t quite exhaust his gall reserves, Obama went so far as to lecture that “how business is done in this town has to change […] and that includes the hard work of regaining [the American people’s] trust.”
Yes, it does. Let’s start with a president so lacking in decency that he would knowingly and willfully allow military families’ bereavement funding to be denied, and federal civil service employees to deliberately harass private citizens, all because Congress wouldn’t give an unrelated program the funding he wants.
All of this is so far beneath the dignity of the United States presidency it’s not even funny. This is not the conduct of an honorable man who takes his job seriously and has genuine empathy for his fellow Americans. It’s the cheap propagandizing and demonization of an unscrupulous, self-serving bully.
It should stir the righteous indignation of all self-respecting Republicans on Capitol Hill. They should be doing all they can to make Obama eat his words, up to and including setting up right outside the White House, demanding he make those accusations to their face, on camera, where he actually has to back them up.
Instead, “respectable” Republicans are too busy hating Ted Cruz for putting up a real fight. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing or disagreeing with the shutdown strategy, of course. But to do so without mustering a fraction of that anger for the law we’re all supposedly trying to stop, or the president defaming us on its behalf?
It’s clear that Cruz and his allies offend the Republican establishment far more than the harm ObamaCare will inflict on the country, that they see being asked to do more than go through the motions as a worse insult than Obama’s lies. Apparently leadership without honor is a bipartisan disorder.