President Obama Faces a Unique Obstacle Course
I’m sure no president in America’s history has faced the obstacles that Barack Obama has faced and is still facing. Not only Congress but even the courts are stacked against him, and I can’t help wondering whether race has something to do with it.
For decades, presidents have made recess appointments without a murmur from federal judges. But when President Obama does it, suddenly it becomes unconstitutional. For decades presidents have presented programs to Congress and had them, mostly, approved. But not when America’s first black president proposes his agenda. Suddenly, none of it is acceptable; the Republican majority in the House will have none of it, while the Senate is brought to a halt by hundreds of filibusters.
I’m sure the decision to invalidate President Obama’s recess appointments will be appealed, but I bet the Supreme Court, stacked as it is with conservative justices, will gleefully uphold the anti-Obama ruling.
I was pleasantly surprised when the justices narrowly approved Obamacare, but you may remember the court only approved it as a “tax.” Chief Justice Roberts wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to portray the Democrats as “the tax-and-spend party.”
As they threatened when Obama was first elected, the Republicans are making it impossible to govern. And they are not afraid of the backlash. With polls showing their approval at a record low, the saboteurs in Congress are continuing to impede the government of the nation in order to prevent America’s first black president from achieving success.
Apparently, they do not fear reprisals at the polls. They are depending on tactics such as gerrymandering, voter suppression and flooding election campaigns with “dark money” to win future elections.
Meanwhile, even Democrats, who are supposed to be supporting the president, betray him at every turn. Many Democratic members of Congress are so beholden to campaign contributors and so afraid of the ire of voters back in their constituences that they vote against the president’s proposals. These disloyal Democrats made it a nightmare to pass Obamacare when Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress. Now, they are standing in the way of common-sense gun control laws.
You will hear that President Obama contributes to his problems by being antisocial, by not hobnobbing with the good old boys on Capitol Hill. But I imagine it’s not that easy and natural for an African-American president to mix socially with some of the white members of Congress. I wonder why House Speaker John Boehner, for instance, has persistently refused invitations to attend state dinners hosted by President Obama.
I know they played golf together, but that’s different. That was just a show put on for the press.
No American president in history has encountered the naked disrespect that Obama has. He has been called a liar, “stupid” and “lazy.” Sarah Palin accused him of “shuckin’ and jivin’ .” A GOP congressman called him a “tar baby.” And Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wagged her finger in his face (photo above).
As columnist Rahiel Tesfamariam commented in The RootDC recently:
The GOP’s blatant disrespect of Obama is a poor reflection on the nation’s political leadership and undermines both parties’ boasts of American exceptionalism. Republicans’ behavior toward this president has gone well beyond political rhetoric and crossed over into the muddy waters of this nation’s long history of cultural ignorance and racial hatred.
Even more discouraging is the barrage of death threats this president has received. It must be nerve wracking to perform his daily duties, appearing constantly in public, with that kind of cloud hanging over his head.
Of course, I will be accused of “playing the race card” but when I see the kind of abuse that the president of the world’s most powerful democracy must endure, I can reach no other conclusion: It’s – in part at least – because he is black.