"debt crisis" should never have been elevated to the stage of a
crisis, and it should never have been allowed to fester for so long. President
Obama could have crushed the effort early on, and he should have. He can still
crush it now. He needs to tell Americans a simple story.
is that we're being held hostage by irrational extremists: legislative
terrorists. A group of extremists who came to Washington and infiltrated
our government in order to destroy it. Extremists who've acted in bad
faith from the get-go -- these extremists said nothing when President Bush
raised the debt ceiling seven times.
Obama should shine disinfecting sunlight on the intellectual leaders of this
group, such as Grover Norquist, who infamously said, "Our goal is to
shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub." (Very
pro-life, that.) President Obama should declare that, contrary to these
nay-saying, recalcitrant extremists, "No, government is NOT the
problem. Government in the hands of idiots is the problem."
He should explain how these extremists hate America, at least the America
that's outlined in our Constitution, the America that's framed by the ideals of
equality, justice, fairness, upward mobility, the America that extends a
welcoming, helping hand to newcomers, the America that invests in its own
people (for that is what "social programs" are, after all).
point out that these legislative terrorists are small-minded playground bullies
wearing grown-up clothes, who are merely play-acting at politics? That
they've come to smash the place up? That it's useless to reason with
them, as they've rejected reason and even a
Obama should tell us what he's learned: that he can no longer try to be the
Reasonable Conciliator. That this role was dead-on-arrival before he ever took
office. (He should have spent 30 minutes listening to right wing radio in late
2008, where he would have heard, over and over, his enemies saying
how it was necessary to do everything possible to make Obama fail.)
Obama should say that he's finally learned that it's not reasonable to
meet these extremists half way; indeed, it's immoral to do so.
want a hero, not a dupe who keeps naively negotiating with people who have no
intention of dealing with him. It's time for President Obama to come
of age as a leader.
transformed President would then use all the legitimate tools of power against
these enemies: executive orders, the bully pulpit, shaming, targeting them in
their home districts, ridiculing them, etc. (President Obama knows these tools
better than I do.) And he would not give in to their anti-American
Obama still has time to transform into a real leader, though the clock is
longer it ticks, the more inexplicable/more mysterious it is that he doesn't
tell this simple story, a story that he and his handlers surely can
figure out. Perhaps we have the story wrong, and President Obama has no intention of preventing the deep
cuts that the Republicans seek to make to the part of our government that
invests in people? Perhaps Obama is not the hero many have hoped for, but the villain? The next two
days might tell us the story of this presidency.
Brian J. Foley is a law professor. He is the author of the humor book, A New Financial You in 28 Days: A 37-Day Plan (Gegensatz Press 2011).