Tuesday, August 02, 2011
American hostages have finally won release from Republican hostage takers... in the boldest and biggest hostage standoff in history. The ringleaders, Eric Cantor & John Boehner, got just about everything they demanded. They would not guarantee that this wouldn't happen again. In fact, the hostage takers have now been emboldened to use their extreme measures in the future.
And while America continues to drown in her own vomit... I still can't find a decent job.
Most Americans found themselves this past week asking... what in the world is going on... what just happened here?
Obama & Co. were taken to the cleaners once again. I have grown to accept the fact that Obama has few (if any) smart, competent advisers. Because someone should have told him to rally the troops much earlier... not 7 days before a deadline to default. The original debt ceiling proposal (a routine vote over much of the last century) was voted down back in May. Even before that, the Republicans telegraphed their plans to everyone...making it clear what their intentions were. They had been planning this stunt for a year. The debt limit itself was actually reached in June. The U.S. Treasury has managed this long by creating liquidity and finding extra funds. The point is... this was no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. A surprise to the average American? Yes.. because they are fixated on Reality TV and American Idol. But for those who read the paper daily...and keep up with government... this was no surprise. So why in the world was the White House behaving as if they were caught flat footed.... yet again? I have mentioned the poor strategy & PR within the White House before... and it seems to keep rearing its head again and again. And as long as this problem persists... we will get the same results. Whispers from the White House suggest that Obama just didn't believe that the Republicans would be this evil... that they would hold the Country hostage to protect private jet owners. Yes Mr. President.. they are really that evil. Time and time again Obama & Co. seems to demonstrate a lack of imagination regarding just how tacky and low the Republican Tea Party could be. Was Obama being naive again?
President Obama should have taken his case to the people much earlier... 5, 6, 7 weeks before... telling the public exactly what the Republicans were planning to do. That would have forced the Republicans to confirm or deny and would have put them on the defensive. He should have told Americans the truth about what could happen to their benefits, and to the economy as a whole. Once people would have been informed about the potential hardships...and that we have never been held hostage quite like this before... that would have put tremendous pressure on Republicans. Obama could have effectively isolated the Republicans and forced them into a corner by preempting their plans. Obama (had he acted earlier) could have made it much harder for Republicans to go through with their plan.
But like so many other times before... the Obama Administration was not proactive. Instead... they reacted to whatever the Republicans wanted to lull them into. The White House actually believed that the Republicans planned to negotiate in good faith... when in reality..the Republicans were just dragging the President along... trying to get as close to the deadline as possible. They had no intention of coming up with a deal before the last 3 days or so. They were following their plan.
I don't know what it is about Obama & Co. and Democratic strategists... but something has to change. They always seem to react...(and even then...often too late). They are rarely proactive when it comes to their strategy for dealing with Republicans... even when they know the Republican playbook...and even when the Republicans announce their plans.
Will Obama be prepared for the next fight? The next fight will likely be the Affordable Care Act...(Healthcare Reform). Republicans plan to defund certain pieces of the legislation as a way of killing it.
We will go from one problem to another with this Congress. In fact... the reprieve will be short. There will be another budget fight in September...and a government shut down (while not likely) is possible. It isn't likely because the Republicans are actually afraid to go through with it. They remember what happened after their effort to shut down the government in 1995. They came away as the bad guys. But this Republican caucus is much more extreme. So these fights are not over... they are only getting started.
Meanwhile the world is watching...amazed at the level of dysfunction within the U.S. system. Global bond holders & investors may now have second thoughts about U.S. Treasuries... so damage has been done. The world is questioning the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency (have been for a while... but especially now). Not only that... but now the credit rating for the Country could be under review. The economy...already weak, has been wounded yet again. The Dow Jones has fallen over 500 points (or about 4%) over the past week. All because the Republicans resorted to draconian measures... blaming Obama for the debt... most of which was racked up under the previous 4 Presidents (but they were white). More from the New York Times. Now the Republican Tea Party wants the debt problem solved instantly...which will cause more problems. Cutting spending too drastically will be a drag on an already slow economy. As if that wasn't enough... the political uncertainty & instability (caused by Tea Party nuts) will cause consumers and business owners to sit on their money. These Tea Party extremists didn't say a word when Bush put the Country into two wars...paying for them with emergency supplemental appropriations (outside of the standard budget process...adding to the deficit but hiding the cost).
It will be frustrating to watch Obama & Co. stumble from one debacle to another.... (including manufactured crisis) appearing unprepared..and surprised. They will be reactive instead of proactive... allowing the Republicans to get the biggest deal that they can get. But unfortunately, this has been the m/o for Obama & Co. since 2009. The latest ploy was simply the most public example of a strategy deficit that has been a drag on the Obama Administration for quite some time.