If you haven't seen it yet, get over to Huffington Post and watch President Obama bearding the GOP lions in their den, declawing them and their made for soundbite talking points one after another.
OK. Let's break this down. The lion's den I'm referring to is the House Republican Conference.
From Wikipedia: The House Republican Conference is the party caucus for Republicans in the United States House of Representatives. It hosts meetings and is the primary forum for communicating the party's message to members.
So this is the Republican side of the House of Representatives, chilling out for one of their little updates in Baltimore, patting each other on the back for reinforcing their talking points and making sure that everyone in their camp is on message. And as we all know, FOX Network has done an excellent job of getting out the GOP message which has basically been this:
Anything President Obama and the Democratic Party propose, say "no" to, even if it's a good idea. Hell, even if we gave them the idea and they said it was a good one, turn around and say "well now it's a bad idea" because if they liked it, it can't be a good idea anymore even if we thought of it to begin with.
But while Republicans have prided themselves on being "The Party of No" - and pointing out that hey, they just can't say yes to a black guy, because that would make them look bad- they've been working against the best interest of everyone in this country.
So, in what is going to go down in history as the biggest schooling of the GOP since someone asked Stephen Colbert to speak at the 2006 Washington Correspondents dinner, someone asked President Obama to speak at their cozy little Republican gathering in Baltimore. They thought the President would say "no" (because that's the only word they understand) but The President, polite to the last, tendered his timely R.S.V.P.
I'm sure they thought, okay, great, he'll be on our turf. We'll sandbag him and get all on tape. Do you mind if we film this Mr. President? Hey, let's put it on CSPAN, MSNBC, and FOX. Again they thought the President would decline but he said, sure, bring on the cameras.
The GOP are regretting that now, because, in short, they got their asses handed to them. President Obama made it perfectly plain that he has, for the last year, given the Republican Party every opportunity to show true bipartisanship. Not the fakery they have portrayed as trying to work with the President while saying "No" to every plan he proposes just for the sake of doing so; but a true willingness to work with the President and to reach across the aisle and fix the messes comprised of our economy and deficit, energy, two-front wars, healthcare, social security and the general welfare.
What President Obama also made patently clear yesterday - without ever mentioning race - is that the GOP have backed themselves into a corner politically by vilifying the President and his party out of habit, (and bigotry), and not explaining to their "base" back home that it's all just politics.
In the end, The President put them on notice: The GOP is now between a rock and a hard place. Obama's year-long patience with their rhetoric is at an end. They can either keep fighting with him or they can go home and explain to their constituents that President Obama is not the bad guy they've made him out to be:
So all I'm saying is, we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.
I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America.
And I would just say that we have to think about tone. It's not just on your side, by the way -- it's on our side, as well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.
The President let it be known, in no uncertain terms, that the very Republicans who smile in his face (he addressed many of them by first name) are the ones who turn right around and say no to his policies to appease their base - then go to "ribbon cuttings" for projects in their home states that they voted "no" on but have no problem taking credit for. President Obama never said the word "hypocrite". He didn't have to.
I too learned some lessons from President Obama. I was reminded not to fall hook, line and sinker for talking points; to ignore the machinery of the news cycle and look to the real issues. I learned that for all the nasty public pandering, the Republicans can and do regard the President with respect when they meet him face-to-face. Case in point -the picture above of Representative John Boehner, from my own home state, cordially greeting President Obama. You would never guess that picture comes after Boehner has spent a year of doggedly attacking Obama's health care plan at every turn including brutal opinion editorials that have excoriated the very plan that the majority of Boehner's constituents, myself included, are actually for.
I saw an Obama yesterday that was the man I voted for. The one, who has spent the past year wisely - learning the job, building his capital, finding his feet, weathered some storms and is now ready to put paid to any notions that he will not elicit the change he promised in his campaign. Some politicans forget their campaign promises the minute the election is over. I have a feeling that this President will be working on his until 2016.
Not long ago, I posted a comment on another blog that I really thought the Democrats would have fallen in line by now and that Obama would have exacted more Party discipline by now. Because if that's how the President addressed the Republicans on their native heath, then any and all Democrats should be sitting up and taking notice. No wonder Joe Lieberman has been talking about just full out becoming a Republican lately. All those "conservative" Democrats need to be shaking in their shoes because Obama let it be known that he has not intention of letting them slide.
There were times in his speech yesterday, that Obama, in profile, reminded me a little of Malcolm X, minus the beard and glasses. But the gleam in his eye and his assertion that despite the tough situation, "I'm having fun." He showed his Presidential side and his black-hand side. He showed the side of himself that was tough, yet fair but that he has limits an he can only be pushed so far.
He let the GOP & Democrats know, their chickens have come home to roost. He is a rookie President no longer.
If you want to get some REAL commentary on what happened, not just the FOX regurgitated media spin that is going to follow this, check out these articles & blogs.
Mahablog: Cro-Magnon Republicans
Washington Post: President's Question Time
The Atlantic: Obama's Question Time, An Amazing Moment
Think Progress: FOX Cuts Away from Obama-GOP Conversation