– Both the President and the Republican leadership need to get back to the center of the political spectrum. Each are so busy pointing fingers at one another that they fail to realize they have three fingers pointing back at themselves.
It was been reported in a Frontline video that on the night of President Obama’s first inaugural celebration night, several of the top Republican leaders met in a Washington D.C. steakhouse to lick their wounds and decide how they would handle the new black President.
At that meeting, which was hosted by Newt Gingrich, the top Republican leadership decided they, meaning the entire Republican Party, would oppose anything President Obama proposed.
Since then, Republican opposition to anything meaningful the President put forth was rejected about 95% of the time.
In President Obama’s first four years, less rather than more has been accomplished. It’s appearing little more will get done in his second term. Why?
The President is a well-educated, having graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He was elected President of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, the first ever by a person of color.
In terms of politics, he was a U.S. senator from 2005 to 2008, after serving as a State Senator in Illinois from 1996 to 2004.
His keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention was a defining moment in his political career. The speech was brilliant, sophisticated, and inspirational, lauded by the entire nation. Barack Obama went straight from being a state representative to the big leagues of Presidential politics.
Did the Democratic leadership move him to the head of the line prematurely?
The truth is with only three years of service in the U.S. Senate, Obama was only marginal experienced in Beltway politics. He’d had little time to gain in-the-trenches experience, and not enough time to develop those political connections that all politics trade upon.
From this curmudgeon’s view, President Obama is a brilliant person and a gifted orator, but he’s severely handicapped with the lack of seasoned political connections.
Republicans knew President Obama’s lack of political connections would be his Achilles’ heel.
Basically, the Republican Party has isolated the President to a large degree. Because of the Obama’s lack of political connections, he has little political capital to call upon.
Some would argue his connection to Senator Ted Kennedy was a plus, and agreed it was. But Ted Kennedy is gone, along with his political clout.
Others would say, what about his connection to ex-president Clinton? No doubt Bill Clinton carries a lot of political force, but he’s not in the Senate. And, as for Hillary, President Obama pulled her out of the Senate to become his very successful Secretary of State. History will have to judge the soundness of that decision.
The 2010 mid-term election was a watershed election for the Republican Party in terms of the House. Fifty-eight new hard-core, hardline Tea Party congress members were elected to Congress, giving them control of the House of Representatives. It also gave us John Boehner, a weak Speaker at best.
John Boehner is not a Tip O’Neal. Speaker Boehner has little or no control over his caucus, let alone his House membership. While he on several occasions tried to compromise with the President, his House Tea Party constituents rejected every attempt.
Basically, what we have is a polarized House of Representatives at the extreme opposite edges of the political spectrum. Many call it gridlock; I call it democracy held hostage.
While many believe that President Obama is the reasonable one in the endless confrontations over what needs to be done, the President’s approach of being out on the campaign trail too much is beginning to hurt his poll standings.
President Obama needs to stay in Washington and deal with this polarized House of Representatives.
His strategy of campaigning for the 2014 mid-term elections is a huge gamble. It’s beginning to cost him his high standing in the eyes of the voters. Voters want action on today’s issues, not campaigning for a murky election in the future.
The President needs to acknowledge his lack of political capital and connections. Hopefully, the dinner he hosted for 11 Republicans this week will mark a turn in his efforts to find the road to real leadership and meaningful compromise.
(Larry Momo writes for both The Washington Times Community Political Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.)