Thursday, July 25, 2013

Removing The Blockage

Before you read today's commentary, if you haven't yet read, watched or listened to the President's seminal economic speech on Wednesday, do it now. If you miss the President's talk, you'll be as clueless and unable to follow our commentary today as the tea party parasites on the back of the GOP.

Contrary to snarky Beltway criticism, or the partisan bellyaching of Boehner and Republicans, Wednesday's address wasn't just the President simply laying out a similar progressive economic plan to ones he's laid out previously. In part, this is because - as many in the media still don't seem to understand - President Obama's Wednesday stop at Knox College was just the first in a series of addresses, visits, and town hall meetings, across the nation, that President Obama is going to be heavily involved in over the next eight weeks.

In short, if more of our colleagues actually understood both what the President was saying, and what he wasn't saying, then they'd deduce that President Obama's speech was more like a doctor's declaration of war - both on the GOP's parasite of tea party extremism, as well as the festering failed right-wing policy ideas like austerity and trickle-down economics. As Greg Sargent put it, Obama is going to use the bully pulpit to break the austerity curse of the GOP. Or as E.J. Dionne put it, the President is going big.

Keeping in line with our own medical imagery, you might even say President Obama is going to finally lance the monstrous boil of obstruction on the backside of the GOP that has effectively ground this nation's progress to a halt.

Obama's address was billed as a policy speech, though if policy speeches are all about details, then Ezra Klein was right when he said that the speech wasn't long on policy. Frankly, it didn't have to be. Sure, the President's six part plan is clearly laid out on the White House website. But we believe part of his real goal was to light a fire under the cowering moderate Republicans in Congress, and their too-quiet Democratic colleagues, to let them know he's got their back.

Indeed, last night in the House, that group of centrists from both parties - obviously fed up with the obstructionist methods of the right-wing tea party extremists and old-guard "leaders" from both parties - staged a near-coup, of sorts. Progressive Democrat John Conyers, and libertarian-leaning Republican Justin Amash forced a vote on an amendment that would have effectively returned the NSA's powers back to pre-9/11 levels, in the collection of phone records. There were passionate speeches from both Republicans and Democrats, and some alliances that seemed quite odd.

Ultimately, the amendment failed - but only barely, 205-217. More importantly, what the exercise may have proven to members of the House is something Republicans in the Senate have already been finding: That they have plenty of common cause with members of the other party who actually wish to govern.

Let's hope both the President and those members of Congress who truly care about the success of all Americans, succeed in the next eight weeks at dislodging the barnacle of obstructionism.

As the President obviously believes, it's time we got America - including Congress - healthy, and back to serious work.