Optimistic President Woos Congress One More Time


Not since Richard III wooed Lady Ann has there been such perseverance by a suitor. Looked at one way, President Obama’s state of the union address was a remarkable display of patient good nature in the face of immutable scorn. Looked at another way, it reminded me of Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football one more time.

You have to admire the President, though you might despair – as I do – of the Republicans relenting in their crusade of obstruction. He was smiling and gracious throughout his address – even when he conceded that he had no chance of convincing his “opponents” that the Affordable Care Act was a good thing.

Another man might have raged against the obstructionism that has frustrated so many of his efforts to rescue the nation from the disaster he inherited. But this president is no ordinary man. He is resilient beyond belief.

I have to admit that I find it exasperating at times. I want him to stop the rope-a-dope, to come out swinging. Those “opponents” of his don’t deserve to be handled with kid gloves; they’re begging for the iron gauntlet.

But another side of me understands the exigencies of politics. I must grudgingly concede that a raging bull is just what the Republicans want the President to be. That’s one reason they keep baiting and insulting him – even targeting his family in their gross parodies.

If they can show him to America’s voters as a raging bull, they will have won the game.

They are even trying to portray this smiling, conciliatory President as the tyrant they’re goading him into becoming. He was reason itself, arguing that with a do-nothing Congress, he would be obliged to use whatever presidential authority he has to address the nation’s urgent concerns. And he was reluctantly forceful in warning that he would veto any bill that might sabotage ongoing peace talks with Iran. Inconceivably, there are members of Congress who are trying to tighten sanctions against the Iranians at the very time a new regime is backing away from development of a nuclear weapon. If the President did not veto such legislation, he would be derelict in his duty.

Yet the right-wing propaganda machine is echoing this morning with cries of “dictator.”

Of course, there are Americans who will believe this lie because it’s what they want to believe. They have their own reasons for despising Barack Obama, and welcome any fuel for their hatred, true or false.

But I am convinced mainstream voters will see through the Republican lies. Most voters are not the credulous dolts Republican strategists believe them to be.

It’s encouraging that the polls show Congress has the lowest approval in history. Obviously Americans are catching on.

As a former President tried to say, and bungled it, “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.”

Click for more on the President’s speech.