I wrote this and posted it on my facebook page. I thought I'd put it here for discussion, as well:
No Place For Whiners:
When President George H. W. Bush was president, he was faced with a Democrat Congress. There were considerable battles over the budget and taxes, a short-lived shutdown of the government (over a holiday weekend), and the eventual breaking of the "No new taxes" pledge. Pressed by the Congress, the President reluctantly agreed to pass the disastrous ‘luxury tax' that was supposed to impose higher taxes ‘on the rich'.
When President Bush was running for re-election in 1992, he complained that his lack of progress was due to the contrary nature of the Democrat Congress. Give me a new Congress, he told us, and we'll get things done. Instead, the voters gave the Congress a new President.
With the Democrats in charge of both the House, the Senate and the Presidency, major policy changes were expected. One of the first measures to wind its way through the Congress was a very quiet repeal, retroactively, of the luxury tax the Democrats had fought so hard to pass. Though they would not admit it publicly, their ‘tax the rich' policy had failed miserably.
Later, they tried to pass a health care overhaul. Whatever the realities of that bill, dubbed ‘Hillarycare', the public perception was that it was a devastating take-over of the industry, crafted in secret sessions with powerful special interests, which was to forced upon us whether we liked it or not. That should sound very familiar to many today.
As a well-deserved reward for their efforts, the 1994 elections saw the Democrats thrown from their majorities in both the House and the Senate. The people apparently realized that President Bush had been correct, that the Democrat-controlled Congress was the problem. They realized this too late for President Bush, however.
This left President Clinton facing a Republican Congress that appeared hostile to his intents. However, President Clinton was a pragmatic man, and he could read the writing on the wall. He worked with the Republicans in Congress, passing historic legislation for the betterment of our nation. It was not all smooth sailing, mind you. The Congress wasted an inordinate amount of time and money pursuing meaningless investigations, culminating in the impeachment and subsequent failure of the Senate to expel him. Whatever your views on the validity of the charges, the fact that it came to naught makes it, in retrospect, a monumental waste.
The President, meanwhile, used the power of the Executive Order to impose actions that he could not win legislatively. This angered the Congress, but they were mostly powerless to respond.
The net result, however, was that the economy grew and flourished, taxes were not overly burdensome, the Pax Reagana was left undisturbed, permitting a continuation of reductions in military spending begun by President Bush. There was even a short-term balancing of the budget. President Clinton did not whine or complain, he just played the hand he had been dealt. He was re-elected and remains a popular president today, despite that rocky start.
Popular though he was, his popularity was not able to propel his Vice-President into office behind him. Perhaps because the people realized that they may have been hasty in dismissing his father, the people elected George W. Bush to the presidency in 2000. Even though the election was rocky, President Bush seated himself with grace an dignity, and seldom mentioned the unpleasant events surrounding his election.
Nine months into his first year in office, the United States was attacked by terrorists, killing thousands of Americans and propelling us into a war in Afghanistan. The attack, designed to disrupt both our sense of security and our financial structures, took a heavy toll on our prosperity. The defense cuts which had helped balance the budget had to be reversed. The uncertainty brought about by the attacks led to economic turmoil. The President rose to the occasion. Faced with an attack on American soil of a magnitude not seen in 60 years, he responded with that fighting spirit that has been the trademark of America since its foundation.
The next few years would see the nation at war even as it struggled to overcome the financial impact of the attacks. President Bush did not waiver in his commitment to fighting for our nation, and for our economy. Despite war on two fronts, an airline industry struggling to recover from America's newfound fear of flying, and efforts to reshape the security of our homefront, our economy struggled forward. The economy continued to grow.
President Nixon wrote that, once a president declares war, an invisible clock starts to tick, counting down the minutes until the peoples' support for the effort wanes. So it was with President Bush's war. Despite early successes on both fronts, driving the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, driving Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and the installation of Democratically-elected governments in both countries, the war lingered. Insurgencies began to take their toll on American forces, and the invisible clock ticked away. Public perception turned. The war was no longer perceived to be worth the cost. It was time, many felt, to pack up our things and go home. President Bush stood firm.
To show their displeasure with the state of things, the people again expressed themselves at the ballot box. The Congress and the Senate, after twelve prosperous years of Republican control, was again handed over the Democrats. They ran on a campaign faulting the Republicans for running up the debt, and for continuing to support the wars. Both valid arguments, though the die had been cast on the wars with popular support. The people can be fickle.
The President still stood firm, changing strategy in Iraq and turning our fortunes around, despite the claims by Democrats that the war was lost. Afghanistan languished, but the focus remained, and the president fought the wars with the army at hand.
Meanwhile, with his focus on the wars, the Congress began to shape the agenda at home. They voted in a minimum wage increase, boosting the cost of employment by over 40% over the course of three annual incremental increases. They began a budget battle with the President, both of the cost of the war and the direction of domestic spending. The lost on the war, the President lost on the home front, and we all lost on the cost. Ten months after the Democrats took control of the Congress, the markets began to decline. The deficits they had run so hard against expanded monumemtally, as spending grew and revenue decreased.
By the time we were through with their second year in power, the nation was caught in a recession. They blamed it on the President, on the policies of their predecessors, and on the general climate of ‘greed', but nothing could hide the fact that the decline occurred on their watch. President Bush, however, shrugged off their criticism of him, and stood firm in his duties. When the recession appeared inevitable, the markets were dropping, and major bank failures seemed evident, he called the two major candidates for the Presidency to his office to discuss their options. Sen. McCain, the Republican candidate, suspended his campaign and answered the call. Sen. Obama, the Democrat, rejected the call and continued to campaign. Winning office appeared to be more important to him than actually doing the business associated therewith.
Fueled by the Democratic rhetoric and a belief that the President was at fault, the people re-elected the Democrats to majority Control of both houses, even expanding their majorities. They also gave them control of the Executive Branch, just as they had sixteen years earlier when the previous President Bush had presided over a period of economic uncertainty. Sen. Obama became President-elect Obama, and then President Obama. The Democrats cheered as he took office blaming, as they had, President Bush for all that had befallen the nation.
Just as every president since Franklin Roosevelt has apparently done, President Obama arrived with a laundry-list of goals. Sadly for him, the economic conditions he had appeared so oblivious to during the campaign would work against his agenda. The wars still raged, the economy continued to slide, and yet he pressed on with his pet projects. Most notable among these was his goal for a ‘health care overhual'. He presented only an outline for this legislation, leaving the Democrat congress to deal with the details. Just as with ‘Hillarycare', ‘Obamacare' appeared to be crafted through secret backroom deals with powerful special interests, and the Democrats appeared to be willing to force it upon the public, regardless of their wishes. It was 1993 all over again.
It again only required two years for the public to tire of complete Democrat dominance of the government. They removed them from power in the House, and weakened their Senate majority. Methinks they would have removed it, as well, but the people of one State have no control over the voters of another, and there simply weren't enough Democrat Seats up for election in 2010 for the Republicans to make sufficient gains.
Now President Obama finds himself, as President Clinton did sixteen years before him, facing a Congress that has been placed in the hands of his political foes. There has been much anger and frustration on both sides, with President Obama referring to the Republicans as ‘the enemy', and the Republicans naming their priority as limiting him to one term. This does not make for a good working environment but, as President Clinton has shown, it can be made to work.
President Obama needs to put aside the whining rhetoric of what he ‘inherited' and take charge of the office he was elected into two years ago. His term is half over, and he still indicates that President Bush is guiding the economy. He should accept that the situation he ‘inherited' was inherited largely from his own party. He should own up to that fact, which I've not heard him mention in his nearly two years in office, that he was a part of the Senate majority when the situation was created. He needs to, in the parlance of the day, "Man Up", and take the reins of office. It is not too late to be great.
The president took a shellacking, as he notes. If he owns up and wears it with dignity, his presidency could still have a decent finish.
- Shapley Hunter -
Quod scripsi, scripsi.