December 8th, 2011...Is it a day that will live in infamy in Presidential politics? That just may be the case. Will it be remembered as the day when the President finally suited up, put on his game face, and threw down the gauntlet? Have the Republicans finally crossed his political Rubicon?
With his "enough is enough " appearance in the Presidential briefing room on the day after Pearl Harbor Day, President Obama seems to be finding a way to channel his inner Teddy Roosevelt, even if he still sounds like Woodrow Wilson. If so, the Republican obstructionists may have to finally retreat from their San Juan Hill of Obstructionsim.
Was this indeed a watershed moment in his Presidency? Will it be remembered as a day of infamy by his unrelenting Republican antagonists? The next few weeks will tell the tale. The countdown clock is ticking in Congress as well as in the Presidential briefing room.
How does the President deal with Sen Mitch Mc Connell and his style of "Just say no, or just say... hell no" congressional leadership?
What pressure can Obama bring to bear against these illegitimate tactics being employed by his Republican adversaries?.
It used to be that there was at least a pretext for the Senate’s refusing to advise and consent on Presidential nominations. Now, with the refusal of the Senate Republicans to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that pretense is no more.
It is not about qualifications or credentials. He satisfies that criteria. It is about the Republicans refusing to execute the law which is now on the books, which they don't like. They are not trying to repeal it. They are just trying to obstruct it, and to keep the agency from doing the job the law requires it to do. This rationale for rejecting a nominee has no precedent. It is a raw and unbridled attempt to politically muscle the President, and he, rightfully, must fight back with whatever appropriate tools he has in his arsenal.
The Republicans need to be reminded that Newton's Third law of physics still applies in Congress, as in every body politic. No action takes place in a vacuum. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Obama needs to finally dig in his heels, and use his clout. He seems to be finally doing just that.
Is there anything Mc Connell and his cohorts value that can be denied them? Obama must show that two can play at this game. He must also continue to use the bully pulpit to rail against this political skulduggery as well, but speeches are not enough. He has to search the hand they have dealt him for whatever Trump cards he may hold, and at least threaten their use, if not actually employ them.
Politics can be hardball, and when one side is playing hardball, it makes no sense for the other side to play softball. Obama has to find Teddy Roosevelt's big stick, and start swinging it. Maybe walking softly while carrying that big stick was a Rooseveltian method that he should have been emulating all along...but it is not too late. The President has to transition from walking loudly, (speechifying too much), and carrying a whiffle ball bat. Goodbye Mr. Nice Guy, hello Rough Rider!.
He said that no options were off the table in his pursuit of persuasive devices to bring the recalcitrant Republicans around. He must, as he has promised, force the Republicans to get off their political locked boxes, and do their jobs. They must pass the tax cut extension, and get Cordray confirmed. Can the President persuade them to do it? Time will tell.
But one thing is certain, if he fails to fight fire with fire, it's the American people who will end up getting burned. That is why the President needs to get out his blowtorch, aim the flames where needed, and start hitting back at them with real heat. Eventually, and hopefully sooner rather than later, they will feel that heat, and get out of the kitchen of their pugilistic political posturing. If not, then it will be time for the American people to guide them to the nearest exit, kit and kaboodle, and shake the cupboards bare come election time.