Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

December 2, 2013

LYONS: Obama resilient in face of lagging numbers

(Continued)

People took Obama’s falsehood personally, unlike, say, George W. Bush’s deceptive assurances that he’d received “no warning” about 9/11, or his phony certitude about Saddam Hussein’s imaginary WMDs. That’s because nothing touches them more directly than health insurance. (Although talking about botched White House initiatives, how about the Iraq War?)

Also, because it’s personal, they’re apt to forgive Obama when the law starts working for them. But slowly, one at a time, like the way they forgave Bill Clinton.

Most also see that if Obama has weaknesses, he also has formidable strengths. Agreeing with Sen. Harry Reid to do away with Senate rules allowing Republicans to filibuster White House appointees took real political courage. Will Republicans retaliate when they get the chance? Probably. And that would be worse than total congressional paralysis how?

Most people don’t especially give a hoot about the hallowed traditions of the U.S. Senate, so if modifying the filibuster rule helps Congress get something done, they’re OK with it. The Senate’s an intrinsically conservative institution anyway — what with thinly populated “red” states like Wyoming and Alaska having as much power as New York and California — so it’s not as if majority rule there threatens the foundations of the republic.

Meanwhile, Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman noticed that even if it did nothing else, enhancing the president’s power to make executive appointments also gives him a freer hand to remove underperforming cabinet members like Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Not that it’s Obama’s practice to seek scapegoats, but his seeming passivity during the healthcare.gov fiasco hasn’t helped him, either.

You can bet President Trump would have fired somebody!

Longman also suspects that the GOP’s muted response to the Senate rule change — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell charged only that Democrats wanted to distract people from Obamacare — could indicate “that the Republicans are truly on another one of their Moby Dick adventures, like Whitewater, like the White House Travel Office, like Vince Foster, like l’affaire Lewinsky, like Saddam’s WMD, like Fast and Furious, like Solyndra, like the New Black Panther Party, like Benghazi, and like the most recent government shutdown.”

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