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 His silence and refusal to make a strong case for changing these outdated Senate rules is a bad omen of things to come; and, as Senator Harkin of Iowa stated, "He (President Obama) might as well go on a 4-year vacation."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.