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January 15, 2013

Obama: "In 2006, I Was An Absurd, Irresponsible Partisan Hack"

"…we’re going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way, rather than just through the lens of politics."

- President Barack Obama, imploring Congressional Republicans to rise above the kind of petty, partisan grandstanding that characterized his own 2006 vote on the debt ceiling.

The date was March 16th, 2006. The young Senator, still wet behind the ears after only 14 months on Capitol Hill, rose to lecture his more experienced colleagues about the need for fiscal responsibility:

Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.

Flash forward to 2012. With Democrats firmly in control of both the White House and Senate it would be absurd - irresponsible, in fact - to blame the fact that we are once again discussing the debt limit to leadership failure. The appalling vacuum that forced a young Senator to explain the duties of the Chief Executive to a President who had held that office three times longer than Obama had been a Senator is mercifully gone, but eternal truths remain, well... eternal:

Leadership means that ‘‘the buck stops here.’’

So deep is the President's belief in this noble sentiment that he used it again during the 2012 campaign to admonish Mitt Romney for failing to live up to this administrations's lofty standards:

... as President of the United States, one of the things I’ve learned, and we just talked about was anything that happens on my watch is my responsibility. That’s what people expect. Harry Truman said the buck stops with me...”

A mere half year later, though, Obama's elusive buck seems to stop everywhere but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. America is having this debate, not because we've had it every year for the last few decades, but because terrorists violent extremists in the House of Representatives have taken the nation hostage.

At gunpoint:

Calling the opposition’s stance “absurd,” Obama advised Republicans that they “have two choices here: They can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. . . . And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.”

And that was just the opening statement. The hectoring continued through the Q&A. Exactly one month after the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Obama said of debt-reduction talks: “What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people.”

Why can't we all just get along? Fortunately, we now have a president who understands us and feels our pain. A less sensitive leader might be tempted to trivialize a tragedy that is still all too fresh in our minds, but real leaders rise above such pettiness.

Back when the national debt was only half of today's staggering figure of 16.4 trillion (That's trillion with a "T", he reminded his fellow Senators), the young Senator Obama pleaded passionately for Congress to come its senses:

Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally...Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit

Today, he dismisses his former vote as a "political vote" by an inexperienced public servant. This does not explain why every single Democratic Senator voted against raising the debt limit in 2006.

But no matter. What's important here is that our elected representatives work with a Democratic president who has announced in advance that he refuses to negotiate towards a "balanced solution". And nothing makes political adversaries feel warmer and fuzzier than a few terrorist analogies and a whole lot of name calling.

That's leadership we can all believe in.

Posted by Cassandra at January 15, 2013 04:25 AM

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Posted by: Texan99 at January 15, 2013 09:51 AM

I know it.

Every day I ask myself why I hate America so much? Why can't I surrender my unearned race and gender privileges?

Am I Melanie Wilkes, or Scarlett O'Hara? Wendy or Peter Pan?


Posted by: Cass at January 15, 2013 12:12 PM

In this situation, you have to ask yourself:

What would Colin Powell think?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 15, 2013 01:31 PM

I'll tell ya what Colin would think:

There's a deep, scary Varicose Vein of Intolerance in the Republican Party. To control it, GOP Congresscritters like that Boehner should start wearing support hose immediately. You know, the kind that makes your legs look like your Grandma's. I hear they even make ones in John Boehner's favorite hue: Suntan.

But I digress...

This problem is far deeper and far scarier than progressive intolerance of Christians, Jews, white males, Wall Street, or the Evil Capitalist Running Pig-dogs without whom entitlement programs for the Oppressed Masses would be unaffordable. Colin can ignore that because it doesn't involve him personally.

How does Colin know Rethugs are a bunch of intolerant racist jackwagons? Simple - he can hear words that are normally inaudible to the severely melanin impaired. Now normally, one might suspect that your average white racist (but I repeat myownself!) wouldn't bother speaking in secret, coded insults that are only detectable to the very people he's trying to insult.

I mean, what's the point of insulting someone if the people that matter (aka, white males) don't even get the insult? Oh well... the important insight here is that it doesn't matter what Republicans say because Colin knows what they didn't say and he's not going to let them get away with not saying it!

"How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor [Alaska's Sarah Palin] say that the president is shuckin' and jivin,' that's a racial-era slave term. When I see another former governor [New Hampshire's John Sununu] say after the president's first debate when he didn't do well, he said he was lazy. Now it may not mean anything to most Americans but to those of us who are African-Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there's a third word that goes along with it."

Click my name for link.

Posted by: Colin Powell's Bratty Little Sister at January 15, 2013 03:13 PM

Colin Powell lost my respect a long time ago. And I had a lot of respect for him... Operative word here being "had"...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 15, 2013 03:36 PM

Now, now little lady.

Colin is a loyal Republican. And not only that - he's a deeply moral man with unimpeachable integrity who wants only the best for the party of Abe Lincoln.

That's undoubtedly why he let KKKarl Rove and Scooter Libby twist in the wind when all along, the dirty rotten leaker who leaked Val Plame's super secret identity to Vanity Fair was none other than Richard Armitage.

Colin is deeply saddened by the state of today's GOP. He just hates being forced to endorse Barack, but he really had no choice. Just as he had no choice but to cover up for that brave, truthtelling truth-to-powerer, the aptly named Dick Armitage.

Posted by: Colin Powell's Bratty Little Sister at January 15, 2013 03:49 PM

"...act responsibly and PAY America's bills?"


I didn't ASK Nan, Harry, and O to go into debt in my name.

Let THEM act responsibly and cut spending.

Posted by: Mean Snarky One at January 15, 2013 06:08 PM

You know Government is spending irresponsibly when Republicans do it.
When Dems do it, it is social justice.

Posted by: Cricket at January 15, 2013 06:09 PM

Just when I thought I was out, they've dragged me back in. I used to be a trader, in one aspect of my life.

Looks like I'm going back to it. I thought the math part of life was over. Dagnabit!

Go ahead, dive in the water is warm. Everyone for themselves. If I'm damned as a lamb, I might as well be hanged as a goat.

Posted by: Allen at January 15, 2013 11:43 PM

I think I understand now. It's not spending. It's not even investment. It's paying bills, the kind of thing respectable, middle-class Americans are supposed to do.

So a budget is really just a scandalous, cowardly device for not paying bills.

We really can't negotiate with these primitive hostage-taking Republicans who spit on everything honorable, like paying bills.

Posted by: Texan99 at January 16, 2013 04:02 PM