President Barack Obama asked to deliver his economic speech to the joint session of Congress next Wednesday. House Speaker John Boehner, told him no. He’ll have to do it on the 8th. Boehner cited a scheduling conflict, but the real “conflict” appears to be the GOP presidential debate scheduled for the same date. The president has been forced to capitulate — and will now have to compete with the opening night of the NFL season for viewers.
What may seem like a minor slight underscores the crux of the problem in Washington: A blatant, sustained and unabashed disrespect of the president of the United States of America.
And it is historic.
Never in our nation’s history has a president been publicly denied access to the chamber for an address, according to the House historian. This is just the latest in a string of eyebrow-raising and even historic slights.
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And for those who want to say it’s just partisan politics as usual, or just the kind of thing that goes with being an unpopular president, let’s consider a few lowlights:
The “You lie!” shout during the president’s speech on health care reform before the joint session of Congress in Sept. 2009
Newt Gingrich referring to the president as “the food stamp president”
and saying that Pres. Obama “knows how to get the whole country to resemble Detroit.”
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn — who supposedly enjoys a warm relationship with the president, saying he doesn’t think President Obama wants to destroy the country, but “his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him as an African-American male” who “received tremendous advantage from” welfare programs.
Congressman Mitch McConnell’s bold proclamation that he wants to be Senate Majority Leader to make sure that Obama is a one-term president.
Rush Limbaugh saying that he wants to see this president fail. (Note: Limbaugh has modified that statement to say he meant his “policies.” But when it was said, it was less than a year into Obama’s presidency and he was still cleaning up the mess from the previous president’s policies, which Limbaugh had very little to say about during the Bush era).
Former Fox News host Glenn Beck declaring on the air that the president “hates white people” and “the white culture.”
Television personality Donald Trump’s over-the-top taunting of the president, hyping unprecedented demands to see the president’s birth certificate.
The shouts of “We want our country back!” by the Tea Party.
And the frequent habit of not calling the president by his proper honorific: “President Obama”, rather than just “Obama” — by quite a few elected officials, pundits and others.
This negative “attention” that this president seems to attract cuts across partisan lines. Even before he took office, Joe Biden referred to him as the first “clean, articulate” African-American candidate. (Which we assume was meant as a compliment).
And let’s not forget Bill Clinton, who chalked up Obama’s win in South Carolina to being similar to Jesse Jackson’s wins there in the 80s and then had the audacity to cry foul, saying the race card was played on him when Obama supporters called him out.
There was also his Senate mentor Joe Lieberman, who blocked the public option in the health care bill. And the near-deafening silence by high-ranking Democrats, including Senate leader Harry Reid, while all of this is going on.
The question among some of us who love this country and want to see it succeed is what is all of this really all about? Because it just seems as if there is a pissing contest going on, but the only ones getting wet are the American people; many of whom are suffering through the worst economy of their lives.
Some may call this obstructionism. But I think there’s something else going on here. Now I’m not saying it’s racism. But if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck…
At the very least it’s un-American. Because while all of this is going on, Americans are suffering.
This shouldn’t be about President Obama. All 535 lawmakers who were sent to Washington to make a difference must ask themselves this question: is opposing everything this president does for the sake of opposition, or worse for a more insidious reason, helping this nation get back on her feet?
If the answer is no, then they need to knock it off. And if they’re not going to do it, it’s time for the silent majority to do it for them. Enough is enough!