Remember that time President Bush canceled an overseas trip because Democrats shut down the government? Yeah, me neither.
Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog
President Obama had scheduled a trip to Indonesia and Brunei over the next few days but, because Republicans insist on holding the government hostage to exact some sort of concessions from President Obama and the Democrats, it has been canceled. Exactly what it is they are fighting for seems to have somehow gotten lost in all of the grandstanding in front of World War II vets and their memorial. This fact was best expressed by Indiana Congressman Marlin Stutzman who said:
This is not just about Obamacare anymore. We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.
Senator Rand Paul is astonished that President Obama hasn’t used focus groups to test out his approach of not negotiating with hostage takers:
Rand Paul: Do you have a second?
Mitch McConnel: I’m all wired up here.
Rand Paul: I just did CNN, and I go over and over again: “We’re willing to compromise. We’re willing to negotiate.” I don’t think they’ve poll-tested “We won’t negotiate.” I think it’s awful for them to say that over and over again. [...] I think if we keep on saying we wanted to defund it, we fought for that, but now we’re willing to compromise on this, I think—well, I know we don’t want to be hear—but we’re going to win this, I think.
The President’s approach has the GOP completely unmoored. They simply don’t know what to do when the Democrats don’t cave in to their bullying. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent out a memo that said, in part:
I wanted to take a moment and provide an update as to how I see things developing with respect to the government shutdown. We are really in an unprecedented place. Consider the following: The President of the United States is refusing to actively engage to end the current impasse.
By “refusing to actively engage” he means, of course, refusing to submit to a Congress full of bullies. That same memo, by the way, makes it very clear that this Republican shutdown very much IS about repealing the Affordable Care Act.
So, with all of that going on, President Obama has had to cancel an overseas trip, issuing this straight forward and direct statement:
Due to the government shut-down, President Obama’s travel to Indonesia and Brunei has been cancelled. The President made this decision based on the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown, and his determination to continue pressing his case that Republicans should immediately allow a vote to reopen the government. Secretary Kerry will lead delegations to both countries in place of the President.
The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government. This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of U.S. exports and advance U.S. leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world. The President looks forward to continuing his work with our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific and to returning to the region at a later date.
It’s the first time since President Obama took office that the Republicans have encountered a refusal to negotiate when they go into hostage-taking mode. The President has played this perfectly. He can’t be accused of not negotiating with Republicans. He’s spent the past five years trying his damndest to do that. He’s got the backing of Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats. Nancy Pelosi is holding strong. Across the board, Democrats in Washington, D.C. are saying, “Enough!”
Holy God, you created us for freedom so keep us from shackling ourselves with the chains of dysfunction. Use our senators today to serve your purposes for this generation, making them ever mindful of their accountability to you. Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis, empowering us to be responsible stewards of your bounty, using judicious compromise for the mutual progress of all. Provide this land we love with your gracious protection and may we never cease to be grateful for the numberless blessings we receive each day from your hands.
We pray, in your merciful name, Amen.
It obviously had no impact.
There’s one thing that is not getting a lot of discussion and that’s that the “clean continuing resolution” or “clean CR” that the Senate passed and sent back to the House is actually a HUGE concession already. It maintains the sequestration cuts which means, according to Michael Linden, managing director for tax policy at the Center for American Progress, “We’ve already essentially adopted that Ryan budget”.
And the Republicans want MORE?
Hold strong, Democrats. The country is behind you.
One more thing to make you smile: the Republicans are so out of ideas that they are resorting to going back to the idea of a “Grand Bargain”. Anything, I suppose, to get the Democrats to voluntarily let them put them in a headlock again and give them a swirly in the boys bathroom. House Speaker John Boehner brought it up in a meeting with the White House and was audibly laughed at:
When House Speaker John Boehner raised the idea at a White House meeting Wednesday with Obama and congressional leaders, “everybody laughed at him because they’ve heard this song and dance so many times before,” said a Democratic aide briefed on the meeting.
That’s music to my ears.