Are Republicans cheering on Obama’s downfall?


One of the charges that current Democrats make about Republicans, when things aren’t going particularly well for President Barack Obama, is that Republicans are cheering on his personal demise.  They are right in a sense, a political sense, but as much as Democrats would like America to believe it’s not personal.  Unless you’re one that thinks that Obama’s personal belief system is so liberal that disagreeing with the philosophy of liberalism makes it personal to him.

Congressional Memorial Service Honoring Life Of Former House Speaker Tom Foley Held On Capitol HillThe premise of this charge is presumably based on Rush Limbaugh’s, “I hope he fails,” 2009 comment.  Everyone from Democrats to Democrat talking heads to moderate Republicans have used this premise to castigate reactionary, partisan, and short-sighted Republicans.  Moderate Republicans have used these four words as a pivot point to suggest that they are not as extreme, because they genuinely hope that Obama, or any president for that matter, succeeds to benefit of the Republic.  The people that use these four words for self-aggrandizement, usually fail to inform their listeners of the more substantive portion of Rush Limbaugh’s 2009 quote:

I’m not talking about search-and-destroy, but I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don’t want them to succeed.”{1}

To paraphrase a line from The Godfather, it’s not personal, it’s politics.

To say that, politically, Barack Obama is the most liberal president the nation has ever had is arguable, but what is not arguable is that his political agenda stands in stark contrast to that of conservative Republicans, and conservative Republicans hope that that agenda does not succeed. Conservative Republicans find this whole argument so confusing.  They don’t regard everything that happens in this world on the basis of how it affects Obama.  The fundamentals of their philosophy does not have Obama’s name anywhere in it.  They had these beliefs before Barack Obama took office, and they’ll have them after he leaves.  They simply disagree with him. On Obama’s signature piece of legislation the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republicans would like an opportunity to provide a plan that is better than his, because Obamacare is antithetical to everything they believe. So, are Republicans cheering on the downfall of arguably the most liberal person to sit in the office of the president?  Yes, but it’s politics.  It’s not personal.

Democrats vie to keep this whole argument in the personal arena, however, because it gives them a loophole in the analysis of their performance, and they have been very successful in this endeavor for the last seven years.  They have also been very successful, these last five years, in preventing hard hitting analysis of Obama’s performance by claiming that any hard hitting analysis of Obama is personal, with Obama as the victim.  The question those that analyze Obama would love to ask these people is how would you like us to evaluate Obama, and his policies? The answer, if they were being honest, would be: positively.  Anything less is some kind of -ism, and you don’t want to go there.

This modus operandi is losing steam with the ACA, however, for it is running contrary to the general public’s personal experience with the ACA, and its accompanying website.  The Democrats have not stopped with the accusations, of course, they just haven’t been particularly successful in inculcating it in the media in this one instance.  The accusation that they level in this particular instance is that Republican Congressmen, Fox News, talk radio, and the blogosphere are saying “scary things” about it, and that that has resulted in the ACA faltering.

Most Republicans will remind you that Republican legislators had nothing to do with its passage, as no Republican legislator in the halls of Washington D.C. voted for it, they had nothing to do with the Health and Human Services (HHS) implementation of it, and they had nothing to do with the contracting that went out for the tech people to build the Healthcare.gov site that allows people to sign up for it.  Republicans have instead, as Dana Milbank writes in a Washington Post article, said “scary things” about it.

One read through Milbank’s column{2} shows that Republicans are merely stating what they believe to be facts regarding the current status of the ACA rollout, and they are making personal interpretations based on their facts.  If these facts and interpretations happen to be scary to some people, then all of those involved in the ACA, however tertiary, are to blame.  If these ACA people wanted to avoid such a situation they should’ve done more to prevent these purported “scary things” from becoming a reality.  Or, if you’re one that states that Republican Congressmen, and the conservative media, would say “scary things” about the ACA regardless how successful it was, then the ACA people should’ve done everything possible to prevent these dissenters from having such delectable material for their scary stories.

No matter what anyone thinks of Republicans, or their “scary stories”, if the ACA rollout had provided quality products, all the American public would know is that the administration provided them with quality products.  The general public would slap Republican “scary stories” back with the general consensus that their personal experience with the website, and the ACA as a whole, was a relatively pleasant and smooth one.  The general public is largely unconcerned with petty politics.  They judge a politician, a political party, and all of the products they produce on results.  Politics is one thing, personal attacks another, but they are both trumped by results.  As it currently stands, the Democrats have not performed well on this issue, and the “scary stories” excuse allows them to avoid penetrating questions about the poor results of their performance.

As proven of late, Congressional Republicans can pass numerous pieces of legislation to alter, defund, or repeal the ACA, and it won’t even reach the Senate floor, much less Senate approval, or survival of a presidential veto.  Congressional Republicans can say all the “scary things” they want about the ACA, and it probably won’t get past the blogger/talk radio universe, because no one outside political wonkville cares what a Congressman might say, unless that Congressman says something that matches their experience, and subsequently affects them and their pocketbook.

There are some, and there are always going to be some, that do want a president to fail for personal reasons, and their reasons may be petty, and might be racial, but to lump those that want the ideas of liberalism to fail in with them, is just an easy way to deflect accountability.  Run into those that think liberalism won’t work for America on the street, and accuse them of rooting for Obama’s personal failure, and they’re probably going to tell you to stick to the issue of performance and results.  These “stick to the issues” people bother Obama, and all of his acolytes, for they are the ones that usually ask the pressing, and penetrating, questions about performance and results.  They are the ones that know politics, and history, and the history of national politics in America, and they wonder how any president—that purportedly knows a great deal about America—could believe that the federal government taking over 1/6th of the economy would be a smooth transition?

What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy,” President Obama at a November 14, 2013 press conference.{3}

They are the ones that suggest that it shouldn’t take nearly four years, and 600 million dollars, to build a website. They are the ones that suggest that you can’t blame Republicans for the current status of the ACA, because Republicans had nothing to do with its passage, or its implementation, and they are the ones that suggest that the president, and all of the legislators and appointees that are responsible for this Act should be held to account for its present failings.  These annoying people are the types that cause legislators to look for actual answers, as opposed to accusations, and it’s much easier to lump these types in with marginalized types than it is to answer any of their character defining questions.

{1} http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2009/01/16/limbaugh_i_hope_obama_fails
{2}http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-the-gops-scary-movie-strategy/2013/11/19/41da73a4-5163-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html  
{3}http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/11/20/obamas_slow_learning_curve_120723.html#ixzz2lD3FJEPt

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