Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted Obama to fail. That appealed to his right-leaning audience in 2009. They had just been handed a defeat with the election of the country’s first African American president and the underlying bigotry of his remarks resonated. The problem is that the country doesn’t want failure. The country wants success. The negatives of fear and anxiety have become tedious.
So too has become the Tea Party, as indicated by its tanking poll numbers. The Tea Party infected the GOP with its strident “no new tax” chanting and drove the country to the brinks of shutdown and default. Thrust back into leadership in the House, the party found itself incapable of doing anything except opposing the president at every turn. Whether such opposition was in the best interest of the country or not ceased to mean anything.
The Tea Party clan opposes the payroll tax cut extension because the president wants it. So does the country. It wants it so much that GOP candidates Romney and Gingrich have decided to support it. But House Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor cannot seem to agree, except to try another FEMA stunt by insisting on offsetting spending cuts.
The Tea Party idea is to get out of town for the holidays and let the tax cuts expire in order to save a few billion dollars. How allowing a tax cut to expire squares with its ideology is idiotic. Tax cut expiration effectively raises taxes on the middle class. The non-college graduate white males who make up the GOP base are somehow supposed to go along with that idea.
What are Republicans in Congress thinking? They seem confused. What they do not understand is that the president has suckered them into the president’s game. Obama’s rope-a-dope is working and the timing is perfect.
The press has obligingly tried to compare Obama with embattled President Harry Truman, but there is no one like Thomas Dewey around as a Republican presidential candidate. That analogy is flawed. So is the Republicans’ attempt to compare Obama with single-term President Jimmy Carter – there is no foreign enemy like the Ayatollah Khomeini. Osama Bin Laden is dead. So is Muammar Gaddafi.
As to media itself, the GOP is all about talk radio and Fox because radio is free. So is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Fox. The Democratic Party is more about the New York Times and Washington Post. MSNBC has become the anti-Fox.
The 2008 election primaries pitted Obama versus Clinton. He became president of the United States. She became the United States secretary of state, whose job it is to represent the president abroad. The 2012 election primaries pit Romney versus Gingrich. I do not see a Romney presidency with Gingrich at state, or vice versa. Nor do I see them together on the GOP ticket.
Both candidates are being castigated as liars. Some may call it “flip-flopping” but the essential flaw is transparent.
The Republican National Committee weighed in and warned against “personal attacks [on] President Barack Obama.” Recent polling data indicates that while the president may suffer significantly low job approval ratings, voters give “high approval” to Obama personally. According to GOP pollster Nicholas Thompson, “There’s [sic] a lot of people who feel sorry for him.”
That is one way of putting it. Another way is to say the country wants Obama to succeed. That is the essence of Obama’s rope-a-dope. He isn’t on the ropes. He is putting Republicans on the ropes.