In 2008 when it was obvious Barrack Obama was going to be elected President of the United States, I lived in Europe where love for him seemed to have no bounds. Despite the cajoling of close friends who wanted me to see the progressive light, I disagreed strongly with the policy positions put forth by the Obama campaign, and I never jumped onto the Big O bandwagon.
However, back then I could understand the enthusiasm for the charismatic candidate both at home and abroad, and I said on a BBC Radio Bristol program that I sincerely hoped I was wrong about how I thought Obama’s policies would impact the United States when put into practice.
You see I love my country, even when my fellow citizens don’t agree with me. I was never like some of those Hollywood types who famously said they would rather live on foreign shores than be governed by George W. Bush. In truth, after almost three years of actually living in a foreign country, I couldn’t wait to get back home to Georgia in 2009. I didn’t care who occupied the White House.
Besides, once the people had spoken, I sincerely wanted Barrack Obama to surprise me by becoming a man who was interested in leading all of his constituents, including the 46% of folks who had voted for John McCain.
I also thought I could afford to be optimistic.
If President Obama over-reached his mandate to “change” the country, if he became a polarizing figure because he tacked too far in one ideological direction, if he showed the minority party nothing but disdain in how he governed, if he didn’t listen to the voters who are always the real source of political power in a country such as this one, the incredible amount of Good Will given to him by the American electorate on his inauguration day--that astonishing 69% approval rating he owned in January 2009—would be nibbled away at the edges until it was gone.
This is exactly what happened by the 2010 Midterms.
Democrats were thrown out of the House in droves, and Republicans regained a seat at the political table: a seat they were entitled to have all along even when they were the minority party in every political branch of government.
Now it is 2012, and the media seems to be engaged in revisionist history.
They say Republicans never wanted President Obama to do well. Old Mitch McConnell didn’t so much as wait for Michelle Obama to hang up her ballroom gown before he announced he wanted to remove her husband from office. Robert Draper even wrote a book about Republicans scheming over dinner (and cigars, no doubt) to railroad the Democrats.
The thing is, this is all a bunch of tosh.
Again, President Obama’s approval rating upon entry to office was almost 70%. If you can do math, you know some Republicans factored into that number.
Second, Mitch McConnell—a politician representing the opposition—said towards the end of 2010 that his goal was to remove President Obama from office. This comment was in part inspired by the giant healthcare package that had just been shoved down the country’s proverbial throat. Almost half of the president’s first term was done, and it was quite obvious the president was not interested in bipartisanship.
And last, even if they had waxed moustaches they could twirl like the evil villains who always tie girls to the tracks in old-timey movies, Republicans didn’t actually have the power to railroad much of anything in January 2009.
In fact, along with popular support, the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House back then. They weren’t beholden to anyone.
As I recall, when Congressman Eric Cantor tried to add to the plans for how the government might stimulate the economy and pull the United States out of recession, the new leader of the free world showed exactly how inclusive he was going to be of Republican ideas by responding, “Elections have consequences…. I won.”
By the time Al Franken was installed in office, the Democrats enjoyed a supermajority, which meant they could do absolutely anything they wanted, and they did.
Instead of working with Republicans who represented at least the 46% of Americans who had voted for John McCain, Democrats ignored them.
However, President Obama did more than just ignore. In a “uniting” radio address full of nice sentiments, he told Latinos in October 2010 to go out and vote, after which “we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”
So I have the memory of an elephant, and I recall quite clearly how much Republicans like me felt when Barrack Obama demonstrated through his actions just how much he respected our opinions.
I recall when the American people tried to slow down the Leviathan that was a healthcare bill they didn’t want by filling very liberal Ted Kennedy’s seat with Scott Brown, the Democrats still weren’t bothered. They simply used procedures to get what they wanted and then called people like my parents—my middle class schoolteacher mother and retired Army father—such lovely things as tea baggers while trying to make their concerns about national debt seem like crazy talk.
So now we are in another election year, and I hear the continued refrain that the Republicans who were elected in part to stop the Democrats have been nothing but obstructionists. If only they’d played nice, the economy would already be fixed. Because of them, President Obama doesn’t own his policies.
Are you kidding me?
Liberals say Mitt Romney made a mistake by telling supporters 47% of the electorate is going to fall on President Obama’s side no matter what. This didn’t sound inclusive from a prospective leader.
But can someone remind me again how President Obama has represented the 46% of the electorate who didn’t support him in 2008? I’ll give you a hint. In general, he hasn’t.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. After you’re done reading Draper’s thoughts on 2009, pick up a copy of Bob Woodward’s book about President Obama’s leadership style. It’s not flattering.
It’s a shame, too. Whatever anyone says now, Republicans like me really did have high hopes for the new guy back then. Sadly, he’s never shown he’s cared very much about us.
Why would that have changed in 2012?