If their policy proposals, blockading of policy proposals and viewpoint that bipartisanship means total agreement with them
hadn't been so damaging to the country, the latest pronouncements of Republican leaders about tonight's State of the Union address could be consigned to the ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha bin. Their efforts, however, have been too pernicious to laugh at, despite what huge targets for mockery they as political leaders are.
Ever since the party's shadow chieftain Rush Limbaugh made his pre-inaugural announcement that he wanted incoming President Barack Obama to fail, the GOP has been doing just about everything in its power to make that vision happen. They have caused great harm but they have not wholly succeeded. The president has managed to get a fair number of initiatives past their stubborn opposition, diluted, to be sure, but in many cases headed in the right direction or at least holding onto already won ground. But the Republicans have jacked things up pretty well with their ultra-partisan actions, which, sadly, way too many Democrats have not fought hard enough against. And now those same Republicans are complaining that the president is in "campaign mode."
Not just the usual, expected sniping that can be expected from either party ahead of the State of the Union address in an election year. A good deal more serrated than that. Here's John Boehner, the Speaker of the House:
"This is a president who said I'm not going to be a divider, I'm going to be a uniter, and running on the policies of division and envy is—to me it's almost un-American," said Boehner.
This is ramped up from Boehner's usual nonsense, but it's nothing new from the harder-core tea party crowd and the cabal of haters who have, since before he even stepped into the Oval Office, been speaking language that describes Barack Obama as "other," backing up that insinuation with bogus and incendiary claims about his birth place, his religion and his loyalty. He's repeatedly been called a "socialist," which sets off face-palms and guffaws among people who really are socialists every time they hear this nonsense about a guy who appointed Tim Geithner and Larry Summers to the highest economic posts in his administration.
It's obvious what some of these well-placed critics would really like to say about Obama's "otherness." But for most of them, even the neo-Confederates and other revisionists among them, there's certain language that even they won't dare express in public. With exceptions.
One of them, Doug Lamborn, the Republican Representative from Colorado's 5th District, called Obama a "tar baby" during the debt debate. Even though he apologized for the "misunderstanding," you would think that Lamborn would be eager to show up for tonight's speech, pushing himself to the front of the line of Congresspeople waiting to shake hands with the president when he makes his entrance. That would give him a chance to make amends in person.
Instead, Lamborn has decided to double-down and not show up at all:
"Congressman Lamborn is doing this to send a clear message that he does not support the policies of Barack Obama, that they have hurt our country," said Lamborn's spokeswoman, Catherine Mortensen, in an e-mail.
Mortenson said that the congressman "believes the President is in full campaign mode and will use the address as an opportunity to bash his political opponents."
Meanwhile, Boehner and others are pretending Obama invented the class war:
Mr. Boehner denounced Democrats who he said were trying to win elections this year by using “the politics of envy, the politics of dividing our country.”
The speaker said he expected the president’s speech to be “a rerun of what we have seen before,” including proposals for more spending, higher taxes and more regulation.
For decades, the Republicans (together with some Democratic allies and unopposed by milquetoasts) have cranked up the class war, trashing unions, transferring wealth upward, undermining regulations and complaining that all their past efforts in this regard haven't gone nearly far enough, something they will remedy if they can regain the presidency and the Senate and maintain their control over the House of Representatives. They are eternally in "campaign mode." That's the class war. It is they who have divided and exacerbated existing divisions. For those who oppose them, it's not a war of envy, it's not bashing, it's self-defense. And we need a heckuva lot more of it.