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At A Most Critical Time, When Strong Leadership Was Required, Where Was President Obama?

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it's called leadership by gilpizano.com

It's called leadership; the ability and capacity of an individual to lead, motivate and energize others to solve problems and meet important goals. That's an attribute that a president of this country must possess, especially in crucial situations. Just recently, at a time when his leadership was absolutely essential in bringing about critically important filibuster reform, President Obama was nowhere to be found.

As the debate and confrontations over filibuster reform in the U.S. Senate heated up, the American people were largely unaware of its importance. Most Americans didn't realize that the use of the filibuster by the Republican obstructionists, invoked 380 times since the Democrats assumed majority control in 2006, was the primary reason for Congressional gridlock and the failure to address and solve this nation's greatest problems.

They didn't realize how important this issue was because no one really took the time to bring it to their attention. There should have numerous debates and discussions about the pros and cons of filibuster reform in the national media, at least in its liberal, progressive segments, but little to nothing was said. President Obama should have shown leadership by speaking out strongly in order to gain the full support of the American people; but he didn't.

So filibuster reform, critically important to breaking the gridlock in Congress and giving the Democratic majority the means by which to enact important legislation fell by the wayside. Once again the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, choked, caved in, and prostrated himself before the power and might of the Republican obstructionists. There have been reports that the following senators have been identified as those who may have helped to kill filibuster reform; they are Max Baucus (Mont.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Joe Manchin (West. Va.), and Mark Pryor (Ark.)

Then who's responsible for this complete failure to enact filibuster reform? The initial blame rests with Harry Reid. Reid, supposedly an amateur boxer in his younger days, has proven to be a weak and spineless leader who has become no more than a punching bag for Mitch McConnell and his Republican fellow thugs. The Democratic Party of Nevada should, prior to the next election, have someone of courage and integrity run against him in the primary and send him home packing.

But the primary responsibility for this failure goes to Mr. Obama who did virtually nothing to see that filibuster reform was achieved. It's incomprehensible that he allowed this travesty to happen. If Democratic presidents Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson had been faced with this situation they would have put immense, unrelenting pressure on Democratic Senators to support this reform, and they would have read the riot act to those who were unwilling to do what was right for their party and the American people.

Nothing was more important than achieving filibuster reform in the Senate. With it the Democratic majority could have brought important legislation to the Senate floor, it could then have undergone necessary debate and discussion and then the vote of the majority would rule. The business of the country would finally have been conducted in an effective manner. This president knew that, he knew what was at stake. But he refused to enter the fray, he sat back and let filibuster reform be destroyed.

Yes, this massive failure rests with President Obama who, quite visibly, likes to avoid conflicts and confrontations.   He has a presidential "Bully Pulpit" which other presidents have used to great advantage in the past to hammer home their agendas but Mr. Obama doesn't seem to know how to use it. His silence and refusal to make a strong case for changing these outdated Senate rules is a bad omen of things to come; and, as Senator Harkin of Iowa stated, "He (President Obama) might as well go on a 4-year vacation." This will go down in history as a failure of monumental proportions.

And since the time that this filibuster reform collapsed and died, President Obama has remained largely silent and has not voiced a strong denunciation of what took place. Doesn't he understand that by his lack of involvement and his failure to use his presidential power to unite the Senate Democrats in making this critical change, he has just guaranteed that his most important legislative measures will be dead on arrival and this nation's most critical problems will remain unaddressed? Something in this entire process just doesn't smell right.

What does this president think that the Republican obstructionists will do when Democrats present legislation in the Senate to put stronger gun safety controls into effect? What will happen to proposed legislation for job creation, climate change, new energy development or, for that matter, any proposals that conflict with the interests of Corporate America? Does he think that those who have sworn to ruin his presidency will suddenly embrace ethics and integrity?

President Obama has just made his bed and now he can lie in it. If this Congress continues to remain in a state of gridlock, if Republicans use filibusters to continue to kill important legislation, and the business of the nation and the interests of the people continue to be thwarted, then this president need not put the blame on Republicans because that's what they do, that's who they are. He should look in the mirror and he will know exactly who is to blame.

This is not the first time he has failed to lead in crucial situations. His lack of involvement and inaction on this very important issue reminds me of his lack of leadership during the much contested legislation involved with the Affordable Health Care Act. That was a point in time when this nation could have seen the creation of a universal or, single-payer, healthcare system very similar to Medicare that would have covered every American and could have begun the process of dramatically reducing health care costs.

The Senate Democrats had a brilliant opportunity to include the "public option" in this legislation that would create a government-run health insurance agency which would compete with other health insurance companies. That could have been accomplished by the use of what is called the "reconciliation process." The necessary Democratic votes were there but Mr. Obama and Harry Reid apparently had different plans. At that most critical time when strong leadership by President Obama was of the utmost importance, he excused himself, and that legislation was completed without the public option -- a catastrophic failure.

Where was the president, what was more important than using his presidential clout in joining the rest of the industrialized nations of the world in offering a form of universal health care to all its citizens? Well, he supposedly was making a backroom deal with for-profit hospital lobbyists. So while the American people came away with half a loaf with Obamacare those hospitals greatly benefited and the insurance industry was given access to millions of new customers.

What is really going on here? Is this a president who is simply a weak leader who doesn't have the will or the courage to step up in critical situations? Or is he a very shrewd politician who uses these situations to make backroom deals and pursue an agenda whose objectives are at odds with those of the liberal and progressive elements of the Democratic Party. This total collapse of filibuster reform and the way it was handled just doesn't pass the smell test. And if anyone thinks that Reid and this president are above making some kind of secret deal with currently unidentified entities, they need to think much more deeply.

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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense (more...)
 
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More than likely we will never know exactly w... by michael payne on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 12:47:26 PM
is a Trojan Horse for bankster corporate interests... by intotheabyss on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 3:57:26 PM
Why would Obama fight to remove a major obstacle w... by John Rachel on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 6:41:19 PM
As I said this one doesn't pass the smell test... by michael payne on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 9:38:39 PM
to listen to all of the BS coming from washington ... by Mrt Baggins on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 1:35:20 PM