President Obama has been out of the country since last week’s elections, which has spared him from answering a lot of questions about the Republican tidal wave. It also means he couldn’t attend Nancy Pelosi’s Accomplishment Party today, which is a shame, since he deserves as much credit as anyone for those accomplishments. Americans will just have to wait until 2012 to properly express their gratitude.
The President did find time to sit down for an interview on ‘60 Minutes’ before leaving for India and the Far East. He obviously didn’t get the message voters shouted on Election Day, but perhaps his ears will stop ringing by the time he gets home from the Pacific Rim, and he can think more clearly.
The man who presided over huge majorities in both House and Senate during his first two years made sure to blame his problems on the powerless Republicans:
“I do think that what was also true was that there are a lot of folks in this country who voted for me, hoping that we were gonna be able to get Washington to work again. And what they’ve seen over the last two years is a lot of partisan bickering. A lot of the same chronic problems that we’ve seen in Washington over the last several decades now. And that frustrated them. And I think they rightly said, ‘Okay, President Obama, you said you were gonna do something about this. We haven’t seen enough change in Washington.’ And so in both those instances, I think people rightly said, ‘You’re the President, you committed and promised that we would see changes. We haven’t seen as many changes as we’d like. And we’re gonna hold you accountable for it.’”
Yes, people were frustrated because they didn’t get even more of the Obama agenda, and faster. As the Democrats made clear before the election, much of this frustration occurred because the titans of the Party underestimated how stupid and crazy voters are. Obama put it this way:
“You know, I think that if you ask people individually, ‘Does it make sense that President Obama gave 95 percent of working families a tax cut? Does it make sense that we make sure children with preexisting conditions can still get health insurance? Do we need to rebuild our roads and our bridges and put people back to work so that we have a 21st Century infrastructure? Was it smart for us to take money that were going to banks in the forms of unwarranted subsidies and use that to increase student loans for millions of young people across the country?’
If you tick off that list, then people will say, ‘These are all good ideas.’ But I think that what happened over the course of two years was that we had to take a series of big, emergency steps quickly. And most of them in the first six months of my administration. Each of them had a big price tag. You got intervention in the banks. You’ve got the auto bailout. You’ve got a stimulus package. Each one with a lot of zeroes behind it. And people looked at that and they said, ‘Boy, this feels as if there’s a huge expansion of government.’”
Yes, it certainly did feel like that.
Obama went on to make a rare admission for a leftist, acknowledging that Americans hate liberalism and will vote against it every time, unless it hides itself behind a tissue of lies:
“… necessity created circumstances in which I think the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want. I mean, you know, particularly independents in this country. But I think most Democrats and Republicans, they want a government that works, but they want one that’s lean. One that’s not wasting money. One that is looking after their interests, but isn’t engaged in a whole bunch of giveaways.
And I think the Republicans were successful in creating a picture of the Obama Administration as one that was contrary to those commonsense, Main Street values about the size of government. And so, it I think it is fair to say that, you know, the American people don’t want to see some massive expansion of government. And I think the good thing is that having gotten through this emergency, I think what people will see over the next two years is probably a better reflection of the kinds of long term priorities that I want to set for the country. “
He’s just about ready for a tri-corner hat and a starring role at the next Tea Party, isn’t he? The rest of his interview is full of similar attempts to make the audience forget who is speaking. The father of a gigantic health-care bill drafted in secret, the leader of a vast pride of unaccountable “czars,” speaks of transparency and accountability. The President who dropped trillions in debt on the next generation wants them to “benefit from the American dream, the way previous generations have.” And, of course, the arrogant partisan who sneered “I won,” didn’t want “the people who created this mess to do a lot of talking right now,” and told Republicans to suck their Slurpees in the back of the bus, waxed poetic about bipartisanship.
In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, that word may not mean what Obama thinks it means. This morning, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC and guest Mike Barnicle said they knew of at least seven prominent Democrat Senators who were “horrified” that the President has refused to hold one-on-one meetings with Senate Republicans. Scarborough said these same Democrats told him Obama “has no idea what he is doing” when it comes to building working relationships with Republicans. I would be willing to go out on a limb and guess he won’t fare any better at building working relationships with the House.
New realities have a way of forcing themselves upon politicians. In America, none of them will ever have absolute power, not even when they enjoy both the White House and Congressional majorities. The biggest change for Obama in the wake of the 2010 elections will be confronting a House that plans to keep its wallet shut until he, and his previously unfettered Administration, answer a lot of tough questions. Once the President accepts that absolutely none of his problems stem from poor salesmanship or ignorant voters, we can begin discussing all those things he didn’t really mean when he spoke with “60 Minutes.”