By Jedediah Bila
The question that hit my email inbox repeatedly after outstanding GOP wins on the state and federal levels last Tuesday was, “Will President Obama be receptive to GOP proposals now that the voters have spoken?”
One might assume that someone whose agenda was just rejected in bold print across the country would take a step back, absorb reality, and face the obvious distinction between his policies and the will of the American majority.
But that’s not how fierce ideologues work.
According to The New York Times, Obama’s November 4 “60 Minutes” interview revealed “ … that he views last week’s mid-term Congressional elections as ‘a referendum on the economy’ rather than a referendum on him, his policies or the Democratic Party. While he said he should be held accountable for the economy as the nation’s leader, he did not accept the suggestion that he pursued the wrong agenda over the last two years, and he focused blame on his failure to build public support for what he was doing or to change the way Washington works.”
Below are some quotes from the President’s sit-down with Steve Kroft. My commentary follows each quoted segment in italics.
– “But I think most Democrats and Republicans, they want a government that works, but they want one that’s lean. One that’s not wasting money. One that is looking after their interests, but isn’t engaged in a whole bunch of giveaways.” Correction, Mr. President: that’s what conservatives want. And we have been consistently battling your Democrat and Murkowski-style allies who have been pro-bailout, pro-“stimulus”, pro-tax and spend, and pro-government-mandated health insurance.
– “I think, people want to see Washington work. And what they mean by Washington working: It’s transparent. It’s accountable. That people aren’t just playing political games all the time.” I agree, although I find that to be an interesting assessment from someone who signed off on the “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase.”
– “It’s not just a matter of how many bills I’m passing, no matter how worthy they are. Part of it’s also setting a tone in Washington and for the rest of the country that says, ‘We’re responsible. We’re transparent. We’re open. We’re talking to each other. We’re civil.’ You know?” Yes, which is why I cringed when you dismissed John McCain during the February healthcare summit with, “Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore. The election’s over.” Or when you rebuked the Supreme Court in your State of the Union address. Or when you condescendingly suggested that TEA Party patriots should “be saying thank you.”
– “One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is the message the American people were not sending in this election was, ‘We want to continue two years of bickering. We want to re-litigate the past two years.’” Indeed. Let’s stop bickering. Now on to repealing and replacing.
– “You know, the thing I enjoy most about the presidency is when I’ve got a chance to interact with folks in a backyard town hall, in you know, buyin’ some donuts in a store. You know, that’s when things aren’t scripted, that’s when you’re not, you know, spending all your time just goin’ through a bunch of talkin’ points.” We love those moments too, Mr. President. Who could forget your spontaneous comment to Joe the Plumber in 2008 that “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody”? Cheers to more spontaneity on your part as we approach 2012.
– “And what I’m gonna constantly be looking for are areas that draw from the Democratic ideas, Republican ideas to find that commonsense center, where we can move the country forward. Even though we’ll still have some, you know, big disagreements and big debates on other issues.” Reminder: When a tidal wave of voter dismay sweeps across the country demanding an end to a President’s agenda, it is the President who is responsible for the compromise.
Whether or not Barack Obama will be receptive to GOP proposals in coming months remains to be seen.
Regardless, it will be the job of newly-elected conservatives to do everything they can to right the big-spending wrongs and to revive a concept that’s been absent in politics for some time: listening to the voices of the American people.