The only thing I can think of that I ever liked about George HW Bush was that the vegetable broccoli was not served for the four years he was in the white House. He never liked it as a kid, and as and adult, and he said when he first became President he’d be damned if he’d be eating any broccoli at White House State Dinners. So for four blessed years, that horrible ugly stalk that smells and tastes worse than anything I can possibly imagine (even conjure up in fiction), was banned from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I always liked that story. Hillary may have banned smoking, thus making leaders of the greatest nations on the earth go outside for a smoke; Dubya had a fondness for non-alcoholic brew (as I do); and Obama continued the smoking ban…although I definitely think he kicks back in the Oval Office and puts his feet up on the desk and lights up a Marlboro. He probably went through a carton over the weekend…but he basically also told his caucus “Eat your broccoli!” when he forced that travesty of a budget deal down the throats of the American People. Make no mistake, this is no great victory for anyone; at best it’s Pyrrhic for the Republicans because every major economist believes that it will destroy the economy further because we cannot spend our way out of a Recession. One that was in fact created by THEM. And guess who might get the most blame for this. At worst, it greases the skids for a Republican President in another four years, because there are a lot of Progressives who do not like to be told to a) fall in line; and b) eat their broccoli. And there is of course the new Boehner Precident that was set: we will keep taking political hostages until you give us what we want.
This President has been an abject failure in the leadership department ever since the Medical Insurance debacle. First off, he tried to not take the Clinton approach which was to get involved in everything; he took the complete opposite approach of complete delegation to his folks on Capitol Hill. That’s like telling 2000 alcoholics that there is a great tavern they now own. Some will not indulge, but I guarantee you that most will…and they will continue to do so until someone puts an end to it. He let the Dems and Republicans run free to come up with ideas, to sit down like adults in a room, work out and compromise on a deal. Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for kids…and the GOP. That whole month of August where the Representatives and Senators went home to their Districts and held town meetings, all there was at first was confusion about the plans on the table. I mean, it was clearly defined by Max Baucus himself, I mean…how could it not be any clearer what was being proposed (and if you believe that there is some beachfront property in North Dakota I’d like to sell you). And while Emperor Max fiddled about, Washington lobbyists were busy burning up the phone lines and the airwaves… controlling and framing the debate so that it eventually wound up being the “let’s unplug grandma and watch her croak” ordered by the evil “Death Panels” that were lurking in every state waiting to be unleashed at the slightest sign that you might not recover from that bad cold and ship you off to a FEMA Constructed refugee camp somewhere. Oh, the Right had a field day with that one but it was the very lynchpin that served this nation notice that this man that we put in the White House was not doing what he was supposed to do: LEAD. He could have delegated and inserted himself into the argument as warranted, but always stating what HE WANTED to get in the end. Clearly, he never did any sales in his life because when you negotiate, you ask for AT LEAST what you want, and a VERY SMART NEGOTIATOR asks for WAY more than they want and eventually settles for what they always wanted in the end, or as John Boehner now has it…98% of what he wanted on the debt ceiling deal. Remember now, this was the very first time he failed miserably; because the debate had now been framed by the GOP, the Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies. There was no Public Option, because he would have gotten that if he INSISTED on a national program like Medicare for all. Oh and what a coincidence! One of the proverbial alcoholics unleashed in that mythical bar was Senator Max Baucus, the recipient of more money from Health Insurance companies and Big Pharma than any other Senator. In the end, we had a law with no teeth; was expensive, and still screwed the Americans like I who have pre-existing conditions, because they really couldn’t be forced to take me on their books for a few years…although I can go into a “high risk” pool. A swimming pool with no water is high risk, and that’s what he expected people to just dive into. So far, not many takers.
With that little disaster behind us, I said to myself that this was a lesson he learned the hard way and he’ll never repeat it again. Oh boy, was I wrong…and I’ve just noticed that there are no other vegetable choices on the menu except for broccoli.
This “crisis” was completely manufactured by the GOP to get people’s minds off the real issue that they have been so miserable at: JOBS. Where are the Jobs, Mister Speaker? Where are those great, living wage jobs (the ones not on paper; the ones with someone with a body temperature of around 98.6F are attached to). Oh, no jobs…well, it’s because…well…we’re spending too much money! Yeah, that’s it! We need money to spend to create jobs, or rather we have to make sure that the rich people who “create” them have the money to do so! And we have to balance our books, that’s another reason why our economy is so bad, and…and…and…
You get the idea. The Debt Ceiling limit being raised is usually a simple matter. This is something that is usually a one liner on a piece of paper pushed through Congress at light speed and sent to the President who signs it fast. It’s authorizing the US to PAY THE BILLS IT ALREADY OWES MONEY ON. It’s not allowing us to spend more, it’s allowing us to pay what we spent…but once again, the argument was framed differently. The Republicans controlled that argument, beat it into us senseless for months, knowing full well that this weak, ineffectual President would capitulate in the end. Which is exactly what he did AFTER they made it seem like the sky was falling. This same Congress that allowed Ronald Reagan to raise it 17 times and Dubya 8 times. Many of these same guys voted for one or both of these increases under these guys. Boehner took the US Economy, seniors, the disabled, and kids hostage and used them to get his budget cuts. And our fearless leader DID NOTHING to get something in RETURN. There was the 14th Amendment that he could have used (and would have according to VP Biden if all else failed) as leverage in getting his taxes on the wealthy. Nope. He could have used 14 as leverage for closing loopholes. Nope. Instead, he let Boehner get 98% of what he was looking for, and a Super Congress (which I can guarantee you will be declared unconstitutional) that will decide the fate of the debit ceiling next time around, because rather than one or two economic terrorists, we will have 12. And they will decide what get cut with EVERYTHING on the table…including the broccoli.
There was still a chance that it could have failed today, and Obama would have been forced to use 14 to make sure default didn’t happen…and none of that steaming Republican cooked broccoli would be law right now. And what this has proven is now the President and this Nation can indeed be taken hostage again….by ANY POLITICAL PARTY IN THE MINORITY. THAT IS NOT THE WAY IT WORKS. MAJORITY RULES, except here in America where there is no clear majority. Only clear minorities like The Working Poor. The Political Class are happy once again because they got something to go back to their constituents with (for/against) on The Great Dent Ceiling Debacle. All led by a minority in Congress, the whims of Grover Norquist, and the ineffectual and absolute abject failure of leadership of the President of the United States. If anything this sets up some interesting political theater for the coming months, because on every interview you could tell the Democrats were PISSED OFF. And I mean, PISSED. When you have Debbie Wasserman-Schultz stammering for kind and encouraging words about a piece of legislation she had just voted for, you’re in trouble. She was told to eat her broccoli just like every other Democrat was.
And thank you to the Democrats who refused to eat their vegetables this time around. They have a principle. They wanted the Hollandaise Sauce at least, but in the long run were told they couldn’t get any. We couldn’t afford it.
“If winning isn’t everything, then why keep score?” – Vince Lombardi
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt