When Jon Stewart said this about the Republicans shutting down the government and then trying to put the blame for the shutdown on the Democrats and on President Obama, I rolled with laughter. The statement was funny, but the situation was not.
The Republicans, led by Ted Cruz, figured the Democrats would cave to their demands, and did not care that the shutdown cost us $24 billion, according to Standard & Poor's. They wanted to shut down the government rather than fund Obamacare. Later, some Republicans insisted it was not about Obamacare, but about stopping our “out-of-control” debt (they didn't mention our overall debt burden is declining). They did not care that consumer confidence has plunged to its lowest level since the '08 Wall Street meltdown. They did not care that, according to a report from the conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the debt ceiling crisis they have manufactured since 2011 has cost the country 900,000 jobs. And they did not care that the shutdown and possible debt default threatened the world economy, causing an Australian paper to wonder if "lunatics" had taken over in Washington.
In poll after poll, Americans blamed Republicans for the disaster, with Business Insider calling it "a catastrophe" for the GOP. So the Republicans tried to shift the blame to the Democrats. Ted Cruz and Tea Party conglomerate Freedom Works vainly tried to label it "Harry Reid's shutdown" for the Democratic Senate majority leader. The problem is their argument would not stick because the American people would not blame ‘Big Government’ Democrats for shutting down the very same government that the Republicans want to shrink and drown in a bathtub.
As polls showed that the GOP suffered a humiliating loss over the shutdown, its own members are pointing fingers of blame at each other. Complicit pundits, in their zeal to be ‘fair and balanced’ have turned their attention to Obama and pretended the shutdown was a loss for him, too. Why? Because the media stipulate that if both sides were to blame for the shutdown then both sides suffered losses. So pundits pretend the crisis highlighted a lack of leadership on Obama’s part. The agreed-upon script is that the GOP’s stunning implosion meant Obama failed to lead by not bringing the two parties together. He wasn’t persuasive enough. If he had just tried a little harder, asked a little nicer, Republicans would have come around.
When Obama’s immediate predecessor, President Bush, was sworn into office, he was soon greeted by liberal Democrat George Miller (D-CA) who promised to help him secure the votes he needed to pass an education bill. And it was liberal Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) who personally guided Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation through Congress. Thanks to extremist Republicans, that political world in Washington no longer exists because Republicans re-wrote the rules. Yet pundits keep scoring Obama against the old rules. They keep scolding him for not winning over Republicans who refuse to work with him.
“…There is a reason Republicans almost certainly cannot be won over,” noted Washington Post writer Greg Sargent, who regularly pushes back against the media’s “leadership” charade. “And that this reason resides not in the failure of presidential persuasion but in basic realities about today’s GOP.”
Just ask Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). After he defied his party and tried to help get a bipartisan background gun check bill through Congress last winter, he explained its defeat: “In the end it didn’t pass because we are so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.” And with that, Toomey, a Republican senator, gave away the game. He pulled back the curtain and confirmed how the Republican Party actually functions under Obama: It fights him on every conceivable front, withholding the slightest bit of support not because most members do not want to see Obama succeed.
There a strong argument to be made that Obama did lead by staring down the radicals inside the Republican Party who closed the government down in search of political ransom. Obama stood firm like a brick wall against the force of the Republican sedition on behalf of the majority of Americans who disapproved of the shutdown and the Republican Party, and who did not want Obama to give in to the party’s outlandish demands.
The lack of leadership is not coming from the oval office. It is the Republicans who are not leading and yet blame Obama of such. It is the Republicans who are harming the economy and yet try to blame Obama for it not growing fast enough. It is the Republicans who do not care if the country is destroyed in their attempt to achieve their unholy goal of taking down our president – not the reverse. It is the Republicans who are acting like traitors – not Obama. It is the Republicans who farted horribly in shutting down the government and then attempted to pin the stink on Obama.
Sources: Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America