These are the same people who have done nothing to help President Obama lift the nation out of the economic morass their party left behind after eight disastrous Bush years. In fact, they’ve stood in President Obama’s way at every turn, reckoning if they preserved the miserable status quo Republicans would win elections.
They should have been disabused of that notion after the thumping they received in November. They lost the presidency along with Senate and House seats, so you’d think conservative leaders would begin to understand there aren’t enough buyers for what they’re selling.
You’d think they’d moderate their views and behavior.
Since taking office, Obama has tried mightily to compromise with congressional Republicans. Virtually every one of his overtures has been scornfully slapped away by House and Senate leaders who decided early on Obama was on his own.
John Boehner now says he’s done negotiating with the president. Think about that. With America’s troops in harm’s way, the House Speaker, third in line to the presidency, is refusing to discuss the nation’s business with the lawfully elected president of the United States.
And it’s gotten uglier, more personal, and, yes, even pettier, such is the bitterness and resentment among Republicans.
Invited to the White House for a screening of the movie “Lincoln,” Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leading Republicans refused to join the president. When he telephoned both leaders on election night, Obama was told they were asleep.
At the White House Christmas party, Boehner declined to have his photo taken with the president. The Speaker of the House has also turned down invitations to every state dinner Obama has held.
When Obama wanted to host a bipartisan leadership meeting, Republicans said they were too busy. When the president asked to address a joint session of Congress in 2011, Boehner said he would have to wait.
Of course, Michelle Obama has been subjected to nasty personal attacks like no first lady before. And when you thought they couldn’t sink any lower, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) went after the Obama children for taking a vacation in the Bahamas.
When the president invites you to the White House, you go. When the president requests something reasonable, you grant it. When the president calls, you answer the phone. You respect boundaries and you leave the president’s wife and children alone.
It’s not just common decency, it’s showing respect for the office, if not the man.
We, the people, bestow the majesty of the presidency on very few people. This is why Obama and nearly all of his predecessors are humbled by it. Presidents also know they only have a short time to lead this great country and they can’t do it alone. It requires a team of rivals, to borrow the title of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book by the same name.
So it is disgraceful that Republican leaders have refused to play their prescribed role in the American experiment. It’s immoral because it beggars the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives for the principles America represents.
Their disrespect renders our democratic process meaningless.
This isn’t what the Founding Fathers envisioned. They counted on mutual respect and agreeable disagreement among our elected leaders. Knowing nobody gets everything they want all the time, they sought compromise. There would be no America today but for compromise.
In their petulant disrespect of President Obama, conservatives in Congress reveal their contempt for the 65 million Americans who voted for Obama, for the service men and women he commands and for our Constitution.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.