In a late afternoon press conference on Friday, President Obama said:
“The American people are watching what we do here. Obviously, their patience is already thin. This is déjà vu all over again,” Obama said. “America wonders why, for some reason, in this town you can’t get stuff done in an organized timetable … The American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy.”
I agree, Americans are tired of seeing the same game played in Washington time and time again. But here’s the problem – there is one political coalition in this country that sees government dysfunction as narrative fulfilling. I know this sounds cynical, but when Republicans cite their hero Ronald Reagan when they say “government is the problem,” how else are we to interpret it? If you believe government is the problem, will that not make you more likely to run government in a way that serves to prove your theory?
I’m not necessarily saying that Republicans are consciously attempting to destroy any semblance of a functional government for the sake of fulfilling a pre-existing narrative. But does that narrative not make it easier to accept a default position of obstructionist? Just look at the House of Representatives. It’s entirely possible a package to avert the fiscal cliff could pass with most or all Democrats voting in favor along with a handful of Republican votes. But Speaker John Boehner will not allow such a vote to take place. For what purpose? If a majority could pass it, regardless of political party, why not allow a vote? This is why Senate majority leader Harry Reid called Boehner’s “leadership” in the House a dictatorship.
So yes Mr. President, it is “déjà vu all over again,” but not only because of the current impasse, but also because you believe a fair deal is possible with a political coalition that has an interest in making sure government is to blame for our problems.
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