I stole this title from a post by blogger Oliver Willis because it so encapsulated how I felt last night after the President's speech.
It has been said that Barack Obama has already been blessed by his opponents: Alan Keyes, Ricky Hendon, Jack Ryan and now the House Republicans. I would also include another group to this list of opponents -- members of the "barbituate left" such as John Aravosis of America Blog who continued his character attack on President Obama today maintaining that he is a prevaracating weak-willed wuss. At the end of a post today where he offers reams of advice to the White House. He ends with this:
I want to believe. But our President has pulled the football away one too many times. Barack Obama needs to prove that he's a man of his word. And he needs to prove that he has guts. I'm happy to keep an open mind. The next few weeks will speak volumes.
P.S. For all those who are going to rant and rave about criticism being a birthright and about Obamabots and Kool-aid, let me clearly state that character attacks on this President are unwarranted and low-rent. Aravosis just points to his sheer craveness when he adds: "I'm happy to keep an open mind." GIVE ME A BREAK! This guy is so convinced that the President is a wimp and worse a lying wimp that it fairly jumps off the page. I am not keeping an open mind on Aravosis -- I think that his is LOW RENT."
OK let me get back to the premise of this diary. I want to echo these sentiments by Willis:
I swear man. Every time. Like, every single time. They pile on they write him off and then he does his thing and gives a great speech that hits the points just about right. They said he was throwing the public option overboard, then he put 7 paragraphs of it in the speech. They said he was going to give his liberal base the cold shoulder, then he smacked the GOP around. They said he wasn’t emotional enough, then talked about Ted Kennedy, average Americans and the moral urgency of health care reform.
Damn you Barack Obama for bringing honor back to the presidency.
"He does his thing" -- indeed that is the case. Barack Obama always seems to do his thing and he is blessed in his opponents.
Melinda Hennenberger writes today in Politics Daily that "Obama Must Be Thanking the Lord for Joe Wilson."
So do you think Obama is thanking the universe for a certain off-his-meds South Carolinian this morning? I mean, it's one thing for the president to stand up there and yack about all he's up against, but Joe Wilson proved his point and then some, behaving like a raving lunatic and screaming, "You lie!'' during a presidential address to a joint session of Congress -- unable even to keep a sock in it through a speech that repeatedly invoked the need for civility.
First Read puts its own "beltway" interpretation on the outburst heard around the world:
"Well, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson didn't help the GOP's cause one bit. Indeed, the most effective part of Obama's speech last night might not have been what he said -- but rather what Wilson yelled: 'You lie.' It could be an incredibly important moment for the president and the congressional Dem leadership because it does a couple of things: 1) paint a picture of the Republicans as ornery and hard to work with, and 2) remind conservative Democrats that they may not want to line up with folks like Joe Wilson when casting votes. Let's be honest: Wilson did more to undermine the GOP's efforts to come across as reasonable opposition as anything any conservative cable host has done in the past few months. Remember how conservatives were able to turn Cindy Sheehan into someone very difficult for the anti-war Democrats in Congress to support during the Bush years? Well, Wilson could end up providing that kind of symbolism. In short, he gave voice -- literally -- to the president's attempts to paint some of his opponents as shrill."
I am always wary of early consensus from the beltway and of "conventional wisdom" but in this case I don't think that anyone watching the speech last night could mistake the disrespect from the GOP towards the President. Some people may by happy about this but they can't deny that the behavior was in fact disrespectful.
I will end with a paragraph written by Walter Shapiro today:
Obama's stirring speech does not guarantee that the polls will swing in his direction nor is it likely that congressional naysayers will surrender to the force of his oratory. A strong address to Congress by Bill Clinton in 1993 did not save his health-care plan from a quick trip to the legislative rendering plant. But if health-care reform goes down to defeat this time around, it will not be because Obama failed to find the poetry to put a polish on the policy.
Update on some of the other coverage about the Republican's behavior yesterday. Here is Right wing tool Richard Cohen of the Washington Post making a point that I have repeatedly made:
But when the fringe starts pushing into the center, then attention must be paid. In general, the Republicans in the House treated Obama disrespectfully, and some of them treated him with contempt. When opposition to a piece of legislation turns swiftly into disdain for the man -- when policy becomes personal -- a columnist is permitted to wonder why. He is permitted, furthermore, to wonder if some of Obama’s more hateful critics are not expressing a repressed bigotry -- the feeling that the man up on the dais cannot really be the president of the United States. After all, he does not look like one.
It would be an awful thing if genuine criticism was labeled racist and therefore muffled. But the disrespect shown Obama seems so disproportionate to the issue -- health-care reform -- that I just have to wonder. Wilson later apologized for his outburst, but he cannot take it back. It was, as has been said of another incident, a teachable moment. I hope he and other Republicans learn from it.
I would add the same thing about some on the barbituate left who are not making policy criticisms of this President but have veered into the territory of straight up character attacks. They know who they are.