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GOP’s Unrelenting Campaign Of Obstructionism And Insult

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GOP’s Unrelenting Campaign Of Obstructionism And Insult

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference after ASEAN summit in Rancho Mirage, California

This was three days before Antonin Scalia died.

President Obama had just spoken before the Illinois General Assembly. Now, he and some old friends, all retired from that body, were being interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Obama was talking about the legislative gridlock that has marked his terms and how he might have avoided it.

“Maybe I could have done that a little better,” he said.

One of his friends wasn’t having it. “They were afraid of you for a couple of reasons,” said Denny Jacobs. “Number one, you were black.”

Obama parried the suggestion, saying what he always says when asked about race and his presidency. “I have no doubt there are people who voted against me because of race … or didn’t approve of my agenda because of race. I also suspect there are a bunch of people who are excited or voted for me because of the notion of the first African-American president. … Those things cut both ways,” he said.

Jacobs, who is white, was unpersuaded. “That’s what they were afraid of, Mr. President,” he insisted.

Some might say his point was proven after the sudden death of the Supreme Court justice. The body was not yet cold when Republicans threw down the gauntlet. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the president should not even nominate a replacement and should leave it instead to his successor. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley seconded this, saying his panel would not open confirmation hearings, although Politico reported Tuesday that Grassley told Radio Iowa he would not rule them out.

Understand: It’s not uncommon for the opposition party to warn that a nominee better be to its liking. However, to declare before the fact that no person put forth by the president will receive even a hearing is not politics as usual, but rather, a stinging and personal insult without apparent precedent. It is simply impossible to imagine another president being treated with such malign contempt.

But then, GOP contempt for Obama and his authority have been manifest since before Day One. McConnell’s refusal to do his job is just the latest example. On Twitter, a person who tweets as @bravee1 put it like this: “Mitch McConnell just needs to admit that he thinks President Obama was elected to three-fifths of a term.”

It’s a great line, but what is happening here is more subtle than just racism. To be, as McConnell is, a straight, 73-year-old white male in America is to have come of age in a world where people like you and only people like you set the national agenda. One suspects, then, that people like him see in Obama their looming loss of demographic and ideological primacy in a nation that grows more multi-hued and, on many vital social issues, less conservative every day.

Some people can handle that. Others would rather cripple the country, leaving it without a functioning Supreme Court for almost a year, and never mind the will of the people as twice expressed in elections: Barack Obama is our president. He has the right and duty to nominate a new justice.

It’s grating to hear Obama act as if the GOP’s unrelenting campaign of obstructionism and insult were the moral equivalent of some African-American grandmother or young white progressive who were proud to cast their ballots for the first black president. Moreover, his attempt to shoulder blame for the hyper-partisanship of the last seven years suggests a fundamental misreading of the change he represents and the fear it kindles in some of those whose prerogatives that change will upend.

It’s well and good to be even-handed and reflective, but there is a point where that becomes willful obtuseness. Obama is there. “They were afraid of you for a couple of reasons,” said his friend. “Number one, you were black.”

It’s interesting that a white man in his 70s can see this, yet a 54-year-old black man cannot.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)
(c) 2016 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Photo: Barack Obama speaks at a news conference after the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California February 16, 2016.  Obama and Southeast Asian leaders turned their attention to China on Tuesday on the second day of a summit intended to improve commercial links and provide a united front on maritime disputes with Beijing.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

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38 Comments

  1. turtlewoman1039 February 17, 2016

    I have no doubt that Obama knows exactly what the issues are surrounding the presidency of a black man in the US. However, to call it what it is would be to invite even more obstructionism and vitriol, even as hard as that is to imagine.

    Reply
  2. opinioned1 February 17, 2016

    Never forget the pounding the GOP took in 2012 at Romney lost by over 5 million votes. This time around you not only have the Oval Office but 24 Senate seats up for grabs. If you think for a second the same people who handed President Obama 5 million more votes are going to allow the WH to flip you are nut-so.. What you had better be super conceded with is the 24 GOP seats up for grabs in the Senate. Republican`s are not going to like the results you will face in Nov.

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp February 17, 2016

      I hope with all my heart and soul that you are right!

    2. Polana February 17, 2016

      Knowing most Americans voters they will vote for the same crap – Repukes and complain later instead of looking in the mirror. These seats will be filled w/Repukes. Cruz will win the nomination and will go against Grandpa bernie. Be ready for Pres. Cruz. Already feel sorry for America.

  3. I of John February 17, 2016

    I would like to believe that this obstructionist politics is simply about conservatives not wanting a democratic President to do well. Perhaps the GOP is blind to how this looks. However it feels like it is more about who the President is rather than about his politics. This seems just mean spirited and hateful. To disrupt the workings of government just out of spite and spite alone with no other logical reasons visible.

    Reply
  4. chino49p February 17, 2016

    These perverted cons just need to amend the constitution that they purport to love & honor so much, to say that no president whether democrat or repub can nominate a supreme court justice in the 4th year of their term and make it retroactive to include Obama. Then when they spout off that they support the constitution & the rule of law, they won’t be such giant hypocrites.

    They say that the people of the US should have a say in who the next justice is and that is right. It is also right that the people have ALREADY said that Pres. Obama gets to nominate the next supreme court judge whether in his first year or his fourth year, or to do whatever else the job of president entails while he is president.

    Reply
  5. Otto Greif February 17, 2016

    Obama threatened to filibuster Alito.

    Reply
    1. Robert Hunt February 17, 2016

      He should have.

      1. Otto Greif February 17, 2016

        Hypocrite Obama said Alito was to deferential to executive authority.

        1. bobnstuff February 17, 2016

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Alito_Supreme_Court_nomination

          The threat came after he was nominated and had gone through hearings. It wasn’t before the fact no mater who is nominated and Alito was got is vote six days after the democrats talked about blocking it.

    2. Insinnergy February 17, 2016

      I hear the sound of pee hitting the wall again…

      1. Otto Greif February 17, 2016

        Because you are lying on the floor of a bathhouse.

        1. Phil Christensen February 17, 2016

          Cylon gets owned by goat. That’s got to hurt.

          1. Otto Greif February 17, 2016

            He’s obsessed with me. It’s funny.

  6. harrisonsaunders February 17, 2016

    I suspect Mr. Obama does understand it. But it would be politically inexpedient of him to articulate that.

    Reply
  7. mike February 17, 2016

    Just remember Obama saying Robers was eminently qualified to be on
    Supreme Court but voted against him. Why?? Because of his political positions. It is all cycilcal, now it’s Obama’s turn eat his words.

    Reply
  8. Phil Christensen February 17, 2016

    You folks need to carefully untwist your panties. Here’s what’s going to happen: Obama will appoint someone who wrote an article back in college mildly in favor of the 2nd amendment, and 15 years ago dismissed a nuisance “civil rights” lawsuit. Republicans will roll over again while congratulating themselves on forcing the president to nominate a “moderate.” Seriously, I don’t know why any of you are worried.

    Reply
  9. DetroitSam February 17, 2016

    I think President Obama understands why the republicans hate him. And I doubt that he believes that he equates the GOP’s obstructionism and insults are “equivalent of some African-American grandmother or young white progressive who were proud to cast their ballots for the first black president”.

    Crikey! You want him to act ghetto?

    He operates on a higher level than any of the right-winger politicians, media shills and low-information voters that populate this country.

    I admire him for operating above the fray with class and intelligence.

    Reply
  10. oldfed February 17, 2016

    Barak’s contempt for the constitution has been show for the past 7 years. He’s a small man with contempt for every white

    Reply
    1. bobnstuff February 17, 2016

      His knowledge of his roll in government as president as stated in the constitution show in how much he has gotten done with a total lack of cooperation from the republicans. If he has failed it was in not pointing out just how bad the republicans have acted these last seven years. If he has any contempt it should be for the do nothing republicans in congress.

      1. Mike February 26, 2016

        Paaleeze do not utter President Obama and the Constitution of the United States in the same breath.

        Pure nonsense.

        1. bobnstuff February 26, 2016

          Did you hear the news, Obama was elected president not once but twice and his EO’s are part of his powers. He by power of the constitution our head of state so get over it.

    2. CrankyToo February 18, 2016

      President Obama is a big man in every respect, and you wouldn’t amount to a pimple on his a$$.

      1. Mike March 27, 2016

        I would suggest that his manhood has little to do with his ability as Commander in Chief. Having said that, I have my doubts about his manhood as well.

    3. iamproteus February 19, 2016

      Oldfed, like virtually all cons, you are quick to toss out unsubstantiated accusations concerning the President. Perhaps you would consider taking a moment to enlighten us as to the specifics of a couple of the instances of “contempt” to which you allude? If you are unable to do so, perhaps you can enlist the aid of one of your cohorts. Surely, one of you can cite at least one actual, verifiable instance of contempt shown by Mr, Obama. If you cannot, kindly shut the hell up!

      1. Mike February 26, 2016

        You sir are full of crud.

        In my opinion and that of Constitutionalist’s everywhere, (and you can check this out) citations available, Mr. Obama is of the belief that the Constitution is outdated and as he so succinctly put it, “merely a charter of negative liberties”. In the Obama world, the separation of powers is a quaint notion that is obstructionist by nature and that need be ignored.

        How else could we explain his use of”executive actions” of note. Please spare me the usual nonsense of a “do nothing Congress”. An all omnipotent president and government were not contemplated at the Constitutional Convention. The President was to be restrained, like the other branches of government.

        The founders wanted it that way. Madison, could not be clearer in this regard.

        1. iamproteus February 26, 2016

          I asked for “at least one actual, verifiable instance of contempt shown by Mr, Obama” and what do you respond with? Another unsubstantiated accusation! Your opinion is just that…your opinion. It is not a fact. Try again and please spare me “your opinion” this time.

          1. Mike March 27, 2016

            Contempt is in the eye of the beholder, however, subverting the “separation of powers”, as laid out in the Constitution of the United States is another story. Let’s begin shall we?

            Executive action halted by a Federal judge on the issue of a halt to immigration law enforcement. Unconstitutional!

            The making of “recess appointments” to Federal judgeship’s although the Congress was still in session. Found Unconstitutional.

            The use of the Internal Revenue Service to punish and intimidate political opposition and stifle the First Amendment.

            The executive action targeting the Second Amendment with targeted encroachment and infringement of this important part of the Bill of Rights.

            Mr. Obama lied blatantly about the terms of the AHCA and its cost and the nations ability to retain physicians and plans.

            Treaty making. The congress alone has the power to give consent to treaties. The Iran “treaty” is a clear violation of the Constitution.

            The overthrow of Mohammar Kahdahfi and his subsequent assassination supported by the United States.

            The bailout of General Motors which effectively nationalized GM and included the abrogation of Bankruptcy Law effectively denying Bond Holders their legal rights under Federal Bankruptcy statute.

            Moreover, President Obama has no qualms about executive overreach.

          2. CrankyToo March 27, 2016

            That diatribe represents a breathtaking usurpation of facts. You either know that (which makes you a liar), or you don’t (which makes you ignorant).

            On the plus side, you do seem to express yourself better than most of the wingdings who post here. Indeed, if you were to change some of your periods to semi-colons, or turn some of your phrases into actual sentences, you might come across as reasonably erudite – to other stupid people, at least.

          3. iamproteus March 27, 2016

            Thanks, Cranky. I’m not in the mood to deal with the crap this morning. Your response is a bit of an understatement, but it works.

          4. CrankyToo March 27, 2016

            I’m feeling you, Proteus. Engaging in futile activity (like talking to walls, kicking dead horses and imparting wisdom to wingnutz) can be frustrating, indeed. Let’s both take the rest of the day off.

            Cheers, Mate.

          5. iamproteus March 27, 2016

            I’ll drink to that!!

          6. iamproteus March 27, 2016

            Oh, BTW, Happy Easter to all!

          7. CrankyToo March 27, 2016

            And to you and yours.

          8. Mike March 27, 2016

            Did you spend much time finding erudite in Websters? I’ll be happy to edit your syntax and grammar “Schmedly”. Send me something noteworthy and I’ll get right back to you.

          9. CrankyToo March 27, 2016

            Sure. Give me your address. I’ll send you something noteworthy – right after tomorrow morning’s bowel movement.

          10. Mike March 27, 2016

            Weak! Just like your’re strained morning BM. Have a nice day.

          11. CrankyToo March 28, 2016

            What’s “your’re”? Did you mean “your”?

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