The Republicans seem to be taking "opposition party" as their sole defining characteristic as they flounder for their place in the new political landscape. Considering how much they bitched when they controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress, it's not surprising that their current situation would leave them surly and uncooperative.
So President Obama meets with Republican leaders and the stimulus bill gets crammed with GOP-friendly tax cuts, but not a single Republican Congressman votes for it anyway, because they don't agree with every syllable it contains. Hey, folks, bipartisanship can't be accomplished unilaterally. No one expects genuine philosophical differences to disappear, but in frightening times like these, surely it's possible to find some common ground untainted by political calculation. Remember that brief, soul-elevating spirit of cooperation after our country was attacked seven years ago? Well, our economy just blowed up real good, and we need people on all sides to be striving honorably to fix it. This is not a time to simply cross your arms, stamp your feet and yell, "More tax cuts!"
The concept of a presidential "honeymoon period" apparently having been obliterated, anti-Obama pronouncements are already popping up. Mitt Romney gave the administration a whole two weeks before telling Time magazine that "the simple solutions and the hopes that were sold by the Obama team are inadequate to the task ahead." I guess impeachment proceedings should be starting any day now.
Dick Cheney, Lord of the Sith Emeritus, seemingly believing it is still his legal responsibility to periodically scare America, emerged to inform us that any terrorist attack from this point forward will be the fault of the Obama administration's lack of understanding of the grave threats we face -- oblivious to the natural conclusion that 9/11 must have resulted from the Bush administration's cluelessness about the same.
Astonishingly, congressional aides even received political advice from "Joe the Plumber", about whom Andy Warhol returned from the dead to proclaim, "No, for him, fifteen seconds." Among the pearls of wisdom dropped by Mr. Wurzelbacher was this nugget of non-nuance for our complex world: "I don't believe there's two sides to every story. It's black and white. There's right and wrong." Gee, maybe he has been the Repubs' strategic guru.
But leaping into the leadership void and striving to assert his relevance as the antidote to all that "Hope" and "Change" b.s., Rush Limbaugh led The-Hell-With-All-You Chorus with his notorious, pre-inaugural, four-word benediction for our new president: "I hope he fails."
Under the premise of taking a slightly more cooperative tack, Limbaugh put forth the "Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009," in which 54% (Obama's share of the popular vote, plus the 1% who voted for "wackos") of the stimulus money would be "spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats," while 46% (equivalent to Senator McCain's slice of the electorate) would go to Limbaugh-approved tax cuts. "Then we compare," said Limbaugh. "We see which stimulus actually works. This is bipartisanship!"
A novel suggestion, one which I did not hear from Rush and his ideological kin when "the Decider" was in office -- and certainly not when that same "Uniter-Not-Divider" received fewer popular votes than "Ozone Man". That would have been fun, seeing slightly more Democratic than Republican ideas enacted under Dubya's dubious leadership. Heck, why limit the Limbaugh System to divvying up the stimulus? Why shouldn't Obama be president 54% of the year and McCain hold the office the other 46%? I mean, as long as we're ignoring the concept of majority rule and all...
At the close of his Wall Street Journal piece proposing this plan, Limbaugh went on to assert, "The economic crisis is an opportunity to unify people, if we set aside the politics... Let's stop the acrimony." I completely agree. And who better to end the acrimony and lead us into a new era of gracious, civil discourse than Mr. "I Hope He Fails"?
Limbaugh's internal inconsistencies are stunning, except when you realize that his job is to bloviate unchallenged into a microphone for 15 hours a week. No one is allowed to ask the Great and Powerful Rush to explain how "I hope he fails" can logically coexist with his more conciliatory statement that Obama "may end up being one of the greatest presidents ever. Frankly, I hope so. I have doubts, but if he is, I'll be the first one to say so."
No, Rush, I actually think you'll be the last one. (Wait, that's not fair. Michael Savage will be the last.) I can accept the intellectual consistency of the position that, if you vehemently oppose a candidate's positions, you would wish him ill in office, country be damned. But how can you hope someone fails and, even with caveats, also hope he becomes one of our greatest presidents?
I'd wager Rush's feelings are more accurately reflected in these other remarks from his "I Hope He Fails" broadcast:
I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, "Well, I hope he succeeds. We've got to give him a chance." Why do we have to accept the premise here that because of the historical nature of his presidency, that we want him to succeed? This is affirmative action, if we do that. We want to promote failure, we want to promote incompetence, we want to stand by and not object to what he's doing simply because of the color of his skin?
Yes, Rush, the alleged non-racist who brought "Barack The Magic Negro" to our airwaves, has once again made it all about race. Somehow the simple concept of hoping that our country succeeds and prospers under a president's leadership, regardless of his party, has been contorted through the poisonous workings of Limbaugh's thought process into "We gotta be nice to the darkie." To Rush, Barack Obama is not the duly-elected leader of the United States of America. He is merely the Donovan McNabb of politics.
It's not news that a self-aggrandizing blowhard like Limbaugh is trying to seize the spotlight by being outrageous. Remember last year's Operation Chaos, during which he encouraged his army of Dittoheads to disrupt the election process? For proof of the success of Limbaugh's manipulation of the workings of our democracy which he claims to revere, one need only think back to President Romney's decisive victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whose nomination came amid the Limbaugh-inspired riots which have left the still-smouldering city of Denver uninhabitable.
While the failure of Operation Chaos demonstrates that Limbaugh may not exert the power he thinks -- or wishes -- he had, he continues to preach daily to a sizeable nationwide congregation who take his word as gospel and are unlikely to hear him refuted. It is his influence over that audience which has allowed Limbaugh to assert such authority in the GOP's current power vacuum, and it is the safe cocoon of his radio kingdom, where he controls who may speak, which allows him to pontificate with such certitude.
Rush, if you really want to test whether your theories on how to run the country are correct, run for office. Be a man. Like Al Franken.
And if you lose, you've already got a ready-made excuse: