Yes. We’re now into week three of the ridiculous and completely unnecessary shutdown of the federal government. We’re also dancing on the edge of an unnecessary financial default.
This crisis, totally manufactured by the GOP, should never have started. You’d think that the government shutdowns, also instigated by the GOP, in the 1990s would have been enough of a lesson. They went nowhere and damaged the party.
Ending it is simple. They vote for a clean continuing resolution without any conditions and raise the debt ceiling without any conditions as well. Except that this crisis blew up in the face of the GOP and now they need some sort of graceful way to exit this disgraceful crisis. They need to get something from the Democrats to help them save face.
Lurking in the back of my mind during this crisis has been my question about the GOP’s motivation. Ostensibly it is opposition to the Affordable Care Act. But I think that’s the presenting issue. I think it is outright opposition to the President because he is a Democrat.
I’ll push this, though, a little further and speculate from a different perspective. President Clinton, the previous Democrat in the White House, had to endure two shutdowns and an impeachment trail. How the Whitewater investigation led to impeachment charges which had nothing to do with the land deal still baffles me. Although Clinton’s behavior was highly unethical, it was hardly an impeachable offense. Let’s be honest. He was impeached because he was having sexual relations with a White House intern. (The terribly hypocrisy was the extra-marital affairs at the same time carried on by some the House GOP members leading the impeachment proceedings.)
Clinton’s impeachment was ludicrous. His successor, President Bush, went to war against Iraq, which had nothing to do with September 11. That war’s damage to this nation was far graver than Clinton’s sexual escapades. His administration lied to this nation and the world to justify that war. His administration condoned and enabled torture to prosecute that war. Yet, no one sought to begin an investigation to impeach President Bush.
My point. What is it about the GOP leadership that seeks to delegitimize the president when he is of the other party?
During Clinton’s impeachment, the government basically went on autopilot. The President could do nothing to implement his agenda. Similarly, Obama has had to endure unrelenting opposition from the GOP. That he has been somewhat successful, which includes enacting the Affordable Care Act, seems to have made the GOP leadership angry. Have they become so petty that they will tie up the government and bring it down in order to stop Obama from enacting his agenda for this nation?
Delegitimizing the president goes far beyond simple opposition. Calling it unethical is like a mild rap on the knuckles with a ruler. Treason is too strong a word, though. I don’t know if there is a word or term for damaging the institution of the presidency. Regardless of the occupant of that office, the president, regardless of party, requires that he be accorded the honors by virtue of the office.
I know people will say that many people openly said that President Bush was not terribly bright or that he was not a deep thinker or that he took too much vacation time. (Those insults were mild compared to those that dogged Obama about his birth and his religion.) But no one ever shouted at him during the State of the Union, “You lie.” Even when the House went to the Democrats in 2006, I don’t ever recall Speaker Pelosi not returning the president’s phone call.
There are many ways to oppose the president politically. However, to oppose the president by perverting the processes and institutions of government is immoral. And over the long term, it damages the presidency for its future occupants and casts doubt upon our ability to govern ourselves ethically. It makes its citizenry cynical and distrusting of its own government. It makes our global partners doubt this nation’s reliability as an ally and its stability in a crisis.
What can be done?