It is excruciating to continue to hear Barack Obama extol bipartisanship with the Republicans.
Apparently so deep seated is his belief that "working with" the other side is so fundamental to governing, he has gone to extraordinary lengths (the latest being the health care "summit" wanting "all the best ideas") including (one supposes) their "best ideas", is astonishing.
Polls supposedly indicate the American people want the bickering in Washington to stop. However polls don't make for leadership, problem solving and effective government.
Most Americans would settle for problems solved. How that process happens they could care less; it's results that matter.
And working with the Republicans on solving problems is an oxymoron. It isn't going to happen!
They are in lock step opposition to everything the president or the Democrats put on the table. They could care less about solving the issues the nation faces. They are interested only in returning to power and will do this by any means necessary. They are ruthless in this pursuit. Any talk by them wanting to "cooperate", wanting "their ideas" considered, is a ruse. It is pure P.R. work and nothing more.
Barack Obama had a mandate for "change." That was what his election was all about. The Republicans and George W. Bush were vanquished, banished to the wilderness. Barack Obama was the peoples choice. A sudden, unexpected result that just a year before seemed unfathomable.
Yet, it appears all but squandered; lost on the altar of Obama's naÃ¯ve bipartisan fetish.
Sure, one could say in hindsight, "How could he know"? He's brilliant, articulate, persuasive" all necessary qualities for leadership. But they are not leadership.
Leadership requires making tough decisions. It is not a popularity contest. It is often hard and lonely. It certainly doesn't include trying to placate everyone. Trying to do that is tantamount to sure failure simply because you can't please everyone. And nobody is pleased with the results. It requires clear eyed thought, analysis, contemplation and a strong sense of success in the mind of the leader and the expectation of success.
Does doubt enter into the contemplation? Sure! Nothing is perfect. Mistakes can and will happen. Some tinkering, fine tuning at the edges will probably be necessary. But the goal and the decision made in pursuit of that goal remain essentially unchanged.
Perhaps this sounds like F.D.R. The circumstances of our 32nd president and Barack Obama were similar, particularly with the economic calamity each man faced as they came to power. And Obama had two wars going on.
But the comparison should end. Roosevelt had no illusions of what he was up against. He took on the financial interests (knowing they were the cause of the Depression) who would oppose him at every turn. But he, and the Pecora Commission he helped to create, brought the financial and banking industry to heel. The "Glass Steagel" Act of 1933 was enacted (that separated the commercial banks from the financial investment firms) thus bringing necessary governmental regulation and to prevent a similar collapse in the future. Roosevelt's successful efforts lasted over 60 years until it was dismantled by the "Graham, Leach Bliley" Act of 1999 (signed off by Bill Clinton near the close of his administration) that led to the "Great Recession" (started under George W. Bush) and the coming of Barack Obama.
Be that as it may, Obama made health care "reform" the sine qua non of his administration. Should he have done as Roosevelt did; take on the financial interests that were at the heart of the financial meltdown and the prime factor causing the economic malaise we find ourselves? Perhaps, in light of the present impasse on health care "reform", it is easy (in hindsight) to say Obama's choice of taking on health care (particularly in his first 100 days) was ill advised and consequently the wrong choice. But that is irrelevant to the point being made here.
It is presidential leadership that has been found wanting. It is leadership, and the clear lack of it, that has failed. That is what is so unbearable to acknowledge and accept. It didn't need to be this way.