THE BLOG

President Obama and the Moses Generation

10/02/2013 08:07 am ET | Updated Dec 02, 2013

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama noted once again that ours is the Joshua Generation, following the groundbreaking work of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Moses of his day.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that President Obama is unlikely to set foot in the Promised Land. If we ever get there, it will be on someone else's watch.

While President Obama is not Joshua, that is not to say that he completely resembles Moses either.
Our president has not come close to parting the Red Sea, and due to the disgraceful behavior of the House GOP in orchestrating a government shutdown, it would be hard to argue that Obama has caught even a glimpse of the Land of Milk and Honey.

If such a land exists, it is only in the world of dreams. That is not our world at all. Ours is a world of nightmares, of furloughs, firings and no pay even for some federal employees who have been deemed essential. It is a world of shuttered national parks and museums, diminished health care for veterans and likely turmoil in the markets.

It is a nightmare that even Bill Clinton may not be able to fix. The former president was once compared to King David for his roguish tendencies, but Clinton is neither a warrior nor a canonical writer, as David was.

Instead, Clinton has become an Aaron to Obama's prospective Moses. Whenever Obama has a problem communicating a complex issue, he turns to the man he has dubbed his Secretary of 'Splainin' Stuff. It is not that Obama has a speech impediment, as Moses may have had. It is simply that our president, ever the law professor, is, as I have noted before, obsessed with the legal process.

Oddly enough, the man who ran one of the greatest political campaigns in history in 2008, the man who prides himself on his competitive drive on the basketball court and elsewhere, often seems to lack the killer instinct in governing and in dealing with his foes in the Congress.

Some have compared President Obama to Hamlet due to his perceived indecisiveness. But those critics misread Hamlet, as I wrote recently. The anti-politician, Hamlet would never run for office. Moreover, Hamlet is living in a nightmare that is very different from that of President Obama. Hamlet's world is literally a world of ghosts and the supernatural, whereas Obama's is one of Baalists who do not respect the president or the law.

Yes, something is rotten in the state of America, but our patriarch has not been poisoned in the ear. Instead, I suspect that there is an underlying tinge of racism in the ranks of the House Republicans, who seem to want nothing more than to have President Obama fail.

As I wrote in September 2009, in a piece titled "You're No David Dinkins": "If the tea party vitriol, the firing of green jobs czar Van Jones and the standing ovation that Cambridge Police Officer James Crowley received at a policemen's convention in Long Beach are any indications, race remains a more insidious and pervasive issue than some of us realized and may have a greater impact on Obama's fate in 2010 and 2012 than it did in 2008."

Sadly, that has proven to be true even in 2013.

While Newt Gingrich and his colleagues shut down the government when Bill Clinton was president, the current shutdown is intertwined with the House GOP's outrageous demand of defunding the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature domestic achievement.

The Tea Party Republicans clearly want to erase that legislation from the record books even though it was ratified by John Roberts' Supreme Court.

Which gets me back to the law.

One can only empathize with President Obama, who, like Moses, a man of principle, must feel that many of the Republicans are worshiping idols, not God or the health care legislation.

Fortunately, most members of the public agree with the president and are already blaming the Tea Party Republicans for the government shutdown, as polls show.

Notwithstanding the cruel obstinacy of those Republicans, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, and, based on early signs, there is no shortage of uninsured citizens who are signing up for it and will benefit from its quality health care at reasonable prices.

Moses had to deal with more than his fair share of complaints during the 40 years he led the Israelites through the desert. It is only natural that there will be complaints about the Affordable Care Act. But the cynical attempt by some members of the GOP to dismantle Obamacare must be called what it is: hatred bordering on racism. And that has no place in America.