The jobs problem in the USA is one of our most pressing issues, it affects us all very deeply, and President Obama’s speech on the issue was one of the most important of his presidency. Here’s Dana Milbank in his article titled “The Irrelevancy of the Obama Presidency” in the Washington Post today:
President Obama gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his presidency when he addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. Too bad so many in the audience thought it was a big, fat joke.
“You should pass this jobs plan right away!” Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.
“Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix,” Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.
“This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) guffawed.
“This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. More hysterics on the right.
“We’ve identified over 500 [regulatory] reforms, which will save billions of dollars,” the president claimed. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) giggled.
It was, in a way, more insulting than Joe Wilson’s “you lie” eruption during a previous presidential address to Congress. The lawmakers weren’t particularly hostile toward the president — they just regarded the increasingly unpopular Obama as irrelevant. And the inclination not to take the 43-percent president seriously wasn’t entirely limited to the Republicans. [...]
Even a mention of Abraham Lincoln, “a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad,” brought no applause from the GOP side. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) yawned. One unidentified Republican backbencher chose this moment to hold up a sign demanding “Drilling for Jobs.”
It all reminded me of this scene from Alexander Payne’s great film “Election”:
Read the entire article. Milbank lumps the “small talk” between Biden and Boehner in with the other bad behavior, which is overstepping a bit, but it gives a good idea of the immaturity that exists on both sides of the aisle in today’s Congress. No wonder their poll numbers are in the teens.
And, I think that Milbank oversteps in his analysis that Obama is irrelevent. Childish behavior doesn’t nullify the presidency. It doesn’t. Because the job still needs to be done, problems need to be addressed. Thinking this is so is also part of the problem. The mere fact that we have to have this discussion at all is shameful.
Time’s are too serious for this perpetual child’s game.