One Year Later: Politics As Usual

It has been a year since our country elected Barack Obama president. I remember how I naively thought he would bring a new era of consensus and bipartisanship to our country. I remember the atmosphere of hope that seemed to permeate the airwaves of our country.. he really seemed to be a different kind of leader.

The following excerpt from an opinion piece by Doyle McManus this week in the Los Angeles Times describes where many of us are a year later:
When the Gallup Poll asked voters last month if Obama had kept "the promises he made during his presidential campaign," only 48% said yes. And when the pollsters asked whether voters considered Obama a liberal or a moderate, 54% called him a liberal -- a big jump from the 43% who gave that answer on election day in 2008.

Many of those disillusioned voters are moderates and independents, people who voted for Obama not because they supported liberal programs but because they responded to his call for a post-partisan politics. To be sure, Republicans in Congress haven't given Obama many chances to pass bipartisan legislation; they have opted instead for drawing sharp contrasts. At least in the short run, that strategy appears to be working.

Instead of a new centrist consensus, Obama's first year has produced a backlash -- and not only among zealots of the Republican right. Polls show conservative views up across the entire electorate.
My first reaction to the clip is to wonder why the Republicans are painted as the folks not wanting and blocking bipartisan legislation.. like the president and the Democrats want it but they do not. It seems that this is a subtle way to give the president a pass and not paint him as a leader who is either unable or unwanting to achieve bipartisanship.

The reality of Barack Obama's presidency is that it is politics as usual. Democrats are in power these days and they certainly are acting like it. When Republicans had the presidency and a majority in congress they also acted liked it. All the talk of bipartisanship is hollow rhetoric. Nothing has changed much in our capitol.. lobbyists still lobby.. backroom deals are still made.. cynicism rules the day and hope is no where to be found.

It has been a disappointing year for independents and centrists who supported President Obama last year thinking things would be different.


  1. Very well put. I sadly agree with you.

  2. We've all witnessed GOP and radical conservative attacks on President Obama. Lies and racial slurs. The Party Of No has used every rotten means to trick the uninformed and the ignorant and to rally the bigots to support their position then represent it as a grassroots uprising of free people.

    There is a large group of people who did not vote for Barack Obama and will not accept him as their president, who feign support (the appearance of open-minded bipartisanship) for President Obama since his inauguration but expect and hope that HE fails.

    These people rarely if ever complain about the conduct of the Congressional conservatives like Michele Bachman, Virginia Foxx, Boehner, Cantor, Grassly and many others, the GOP leadership and their extremist conservative media spokespersons/ideological leaders. But, if the Congressional Democrats can't pass health care reform in the Senate because there aren't enough conscientious honest senators to pass the measure without resorting to reconciliation and compromise that would gut an adequate reform proposal, then suddenly President Obama's silent opposition jumps up to point out with feigned disappointment that President Obama was only a pretender.

    Not a word about the Democratic effort at bipartisanship in the Senate which was openly opposed by the Conservative members of the Baucus subcommittee. Where are the posts demanding responsible representation of the People not the Party and not their lobbyist benefactors?

    Where are the posts that condemn the chimpanzee and gorilla jokes? Where are the posts that condemn the screams at our President of a biased Republican on the floor of the Congress rather than a polite, albeit biased, discussion of when "name calling" is appropriate in a debate. Where are the posts that condemn the conduct of the Congressional conservatives?

    You can feign a desire for bipartisan governing but the lack of balance in your posts makes clear your real attitude.

  3. Aside from your displeasure with my blog postings Joe.. do you really see something other than politics as usual?

  4. How does President Obama change the way Republicans and Democrats work in Congress when the congressional leaders of the Republican party assure him that every Republican will vote NO. They are the Party of No. The term was coined by the congressional Republican leaders and with pride they continue to remind the People that they are the Party of No.

    President Obama's list of accomplishments is significant. He has delivered on 52 promises and he has broken only 7. Has he demanded that the congressional Democrats ignore the Republicans? I don't think he has and had I been in his position I probably would have because they are the Party of No.

    I wanted President Obama to do some things that he hasn't done so far. Some things he has chosen not to do or not to do yet. Some things Congress prevents him from doing or completing, like closing GITMO.

    Since you are so disappointed with (President) Obama's "politics as usual" conduct, please be more specific. I can go all night listing the ways that the congressional Republicans have blocked or attempted to block anything that President Obama has pushed but you've already heard me on that subject multiple times. It's your turn to cite specific instances of how President Obama is "politics as usual." Bear in mind that President Obama cannot perform miracles and never claimed that he could so he is not responsible for the Republicans in Washington DC who refuse to act in good faith. I'm not asking that they knell down and do as the Democrats wish. I only expect all our representatives to act in good faith in Congress. If they will not it is nobody's fault but theirs and the voters who put them there and keep them there.

  5. but your system works. I was with the world watching when you had your elections and I couldn't help but be envious because It really was the people who made their choice. I could feel it through the TV, the feeling of pride in being able to choose. We don't have that completely over here... corruption..

    Now the comes the part of living with those choices.

  6. The examples you cite IMO are all a part of politics as usual Joe. The GOP and Dems both play the game. You ask that I provide you with a list of how the prez is acting in a partisan fashion when you have not provided me with any way that he has acted in a nonpartisan fashion. The atmosphere in DC has not changed with the new administration.. it is still an us vs them system.. partisan politics is politics as usual.

  7. Thanks for the reminder Rygel. Though folks in our country have our differences we are united on the essentials of freedom.

  8. Do you have a few examples of how he has been partisan? I honestly do not know what he could have done differently when dealing with the conservatives. What would he have had to do that would have satisfied you? He insisted that the senate republicans be a party to the Baucus bill development while I would have dismissed Grassley when he assured his constituents that he was only participating in order to block reform.

    So, provide specifics, don't throw my question back at me. You made the accusation. Back it up.

  9. I re-read my earlier comments and I don't know which of my examples demonstrate that President Obama has made no attempt to change the partisan process in DC. Please explain how my comments are examples of President Obama conducting business as usual.

  10. You may be right Joe.. your questions help me think through the whole idea of what it means to be bipartisan.. and I have to admit that it is unfair for me to want it from any president since the whole two party system is partisan in nature.

    I think that you are a good advocate for the president and the Democratic party.. you are more informed than I am and probably more informed than most Americans. However I am not a good advocate for my post and I cannot, off the top of my head, point to a specific instance of the presidents partisanship. So I concede the debate on partisanship and politics as usual.

  11. Bob, I don't like the party system. I think it is a necessary evil on which we should impose limits to rein in its power to ensure that politicians are representing their constituents rather than their parties. We have seen popular candidates for an elected office unseated by the purchasing power and influence of a political party. When that happens the party is serving itself not the constituents. All parties are guilty of doing this. Parties are inherently partisan. When the legislature compromises to pass a bill it isn't because the parties have compromised, it's because rogue legislators on one or both sides of the aisle compromised in spite of the party dictates. Compromise legislation is passed not when the party system works but when the party system FAILS.

    I think the only way to limit the power of the parties is to impose severe term limits. I wouldn't let any person serve in the US Congress for more than 6 years. I'm not opposed to career politicians per se, however, I think that most if not all members of Congress that serve for several terms (20 or more years) do so because they put party politics first. More often the Caucus rather than the constituents determines how each obedient party member will vote.

    There are exceptions. The Republican Senators from Maine (Snowe and Collins) broke ranks and compromised with the Democrats to pass the recovery act. On Saturday one lone House Republican representing a traditionally Democratic district in Louisiana voted the way his constituents wanted while several Democrats voted against the House health care reform bill but not for the same reason. Some of the liberal Democrats would not vote for the bill because it contains an amendment intended to limit a woman's choice on abortion even when the cost is not subsidized by the government, while the other Democrats in opposition to the bill oppose the bill because it will tax their higher income constituents.

    But the majority on both sides of the aisle always vote the party line. My favorite example of party control occurred during the confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas. Although the final vote was not along party lines, on the matter of the Anita Hill sexual harrassment accusation only, every Democrat believed Anita Hill and every Republican belived Clarence Thomas. I don't know whether Anita Hill's accusation was valid or not. The validity of the accusation is not the issue. The real issue for me is that every Democrat believed Hill and every Republican believed Thomas. That's party control at its worst.

  12. Bush was at his worst when he went after bipartisan policies, like education and healthcare. I am happy Obama is taking the tactic he is because it is allowing for a better contrast than the mediocrity of wishy washy policies we have had for 20 years. The only hope and change Obama has pursued is his Hope to play more golf and to Change his swing.

  13. jrcharrd said, "The only hope and change Obama has pursued is his Hope to play more golf and to Change his swing."

    Is that a joke or are you serious?


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