At this time, in the home stretch of the Obama administration, historians have begun scrutinizing all the accomplishments and decisions on which the president’s legacy will be judged. There’s still enough time left for something major to come along and tweak history one way or the other, but barring any unforeseen surprises, it looks like President Barack Hussein Obama will be remembered by most objective historians as a good and decent man who was a very effective Commander in Chief during historically difficult times.
But there are two major political parties in this country, not just one (though at the time of this writing, one of them is teetering on the brink of extinction). Since Barack Obama is a Democrat, and as such is the de facto leader of the Democratic Party, his party shares the glory of his achievements. And if history should be so inclined, it will bear the burden of his failures.
How will history remember the Republican party’s attempts to sabotage the Obama administration?
But what of the other party, the Republicans? How will history remember their role during the Obama administration? Let’s reflect.
- Inauguration Day, 2009. Literally, on the very day, the first African-American president in history was sworn in on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible, a cadre of high-ranking Republicans met in secret at a Washington restaurant, the Caucus Room, and conspired to smear the newly minted presidency. And yes, conspired is the appropriate word: Conspiracy ~ “make secret plans to commit an unlawful or harmful act.” Amongst the conspirators plotting the failure of the Obama administration was current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, GOP propagandist Frank Luntz, ex-House Whip Eric Cantor, ex-Senator and current head of the Heritage Foundation James DeMint, along with a few others. The results of that meeting? To reject everything the new president says or does, even if it’s something they actually favor. Make him a “one-term President,” even if it meant harming the nation itself. I doubt any of those present ever considered the unfortunate date they chose to hatch their conspiracy, January 20th…the same date as another historic conspiracy: the Wannsee Conference of 1942. Nice timing there guys.
- First major Tea Party event. A mere five weeks after being sworn in, the first major Tea Party event took place on the National Mall. Apparently, it only took five weeks for these patriots to decide that they’d already had enough of Barack Obama. Why just look at all the damage the Obama administration had done by then! He… he… he has a funny sounding name, and rumor has it, he’s not one of us. Embedded amongst the Tea Party folks were several Fox News reporters, all energized being amongst this wonderful gathering of real Americans—at a time when defining what a real American is, was suddenly open for debate. Fox was cautious not to broadcast any of the brazenly racist, vile and threatening banners the revelers marched with, but hey, that’s just Fox. The Tea Party shindig was touted as a latter-day Woodstock for the Winnebago and folding-chair class. Come one, come all, provided you share our contempt for the new kid at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Qualifications for entry: Be white, ignorant and angry.
- Donald Trump’s birther conspiracy. And speaking of the Tea Party, remember when a fellow named Donald J. Trump entered the fray? He saw in their vitriol an opportunity to align himself with their deepest, dumbest superstitions. The great birth certificate freakout of 2007-2011 began well before Trump came along, but his involvement gave it legitimacy. Trump insisted; “I have people in Hawaii investigating this. You won’t believe what they’re finding. You won’t believe it.” He was right about that. Nobody with two firing synapses believed it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t describe the average Tea Partier, who did believe it, all of which contributed ultimately to President Obama finally putting the issue to rest by asking the State of Hawaii to reveal his original long-form birth certificate. No American President in history has ever been treated so disrespectfully by the opposition party. They questioned his loyalty to the Constitution, his love of country, his religion, even his citizenship. And through that, the legitimacy of his presidency and the Obama administration. To date, not a soul from the GOP leadership has ever apologized to him for any of it.
Now that Donald Trump is the de facto nominee of the Republican Party, has he recanted or apologized for his role in the lie of the decade? Nope. Did Fox News ever take an official position on the side of truth and admit the whole birth certificate panic was much ado about nothing? Nope. They enjoyed watching this newbie president squirm. Why spoil the fun? We’re Fox News, after all, we’re not in the business of getting to the bottom of such things.
The Obamas have been as close to the quintessential American family as any in my memory. Barack and Michelle clearly have a wonderful relationship, and their two daughters are model examples of attentive parenting. No scandals for the Obama administration…nobody photographed in embarrassing, compromising predicaments…much to the chagrin of Murdoch’s tabloids, who’ve been salivating for the chance to publish an Obama “untold story.” But if history is any precedent, one is inevitable. If Murdoch can’t dig up some dirt on his enemies, he’ll just pull something out of his ass.
So where are the compliments from the party of family values? Not a single scandal for the Obama administration in nearly eight years? (Unless of course you actually believe Benghaaaaazi is a scandal, as opposed to the tragic incident that it was, and twisted into a faux scandal with which to smear Hillary Clinton). No, they won’t give the Obamas credit for being model parents, because that would fly against their talking points. Democrats are anti-family, remember? Their kids are all wild, unruly potheads. Just the other day, the Fox News website ran the story of Malia Obama being accepted to Harvard. Harvard! And an adjoining story was about inner-city violence in Chicago—with a picture of President Obama in the background. Nice touch. We at Fox never suggested African-Americans are violent thugs, but hey, if you arrive at that conclusion due to random scanning of our site and the horrifically racist posts we permit on our otherwise censored comments sections, who are we to interfere? First Amendment, remember?
The only time the family values party ever gets tongue-tied is when you ask them to comment about the likes of David Vitter, Larry Craig or Dennis Hastert. And the only time they rush to criticize racism is when they detect “reverse-racism.” The nonsensical claim that whites are now the ones being most heavily discriminated against by minorities in positions of authority.
- Obama addresses a Conference of Republican leaders. A year after Barack Obama settled into the White House, he was invited to address a conference of Republican leaders in Baltimore. His hosts made one fatal mistake, though: they agreed to let the cable channels cover it. The president was charming, respectful, and used the opportunity to dismantle much of the nonsense they’d been throwing his way since he first announced his candidacy in 2007. Fox News broke away and went back to their regular programming. It was evidently too humiliating for them for this “celebrity” to lecture them…as if he was their equal! I recall distinctly the current Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, couldn’t have possibly been any more dismissive of the president had he tried. He stood beside him, not so much as a smile on his face, and treated this invader to their forum as if he had tuberculosis. And the Republican audience was no better. To quote the late, great Rodney Dangerfield; No respect at all. For the President of the United States of America! Their Commander in Chief, whether they liked it or not, even though the President went out of his way to be gracious and respectful to his hosts. Said one Republican Lawmaker to CNN after the event; “In retrospect, it probably wasn’t wise to allow cameras in there.” Ya’ think? There was just something different about this Commander in Chief that justified them treating him so. And it just came so naturally. Gosh, I wonder what it was?
- And speaking of disrespect, do you remember Congressman Joe Wilson? The man who literally shouted out “You lie!” from the gallery of the People’s House? And do you recall how he was chastised and censured by his party for showing such disrespect for the President of the United States? No, neither do I. That’s because it never happened. In fact, Wilson later went on to use that incident as a fundraiser.
- Rush Limbaugh. And we can’t talk about disrespect without mentioning the de facto voice of the GOP, El Rushbo. It isn’t enough that Rush Limbaugh uses the airwaves to lie, smear and denigrate this president, but his second-favorite target during the past seven years has been the First Lady, Michelle Obama. Or as Limbaugh calls her “Mooshelle.” Why Mooshelle? Because Limbaugh believes she’s a fat cow, hence the “moo.” Just let that sink in for a minute. Rush Limbaugh, accusing someone else of being worthy of ridicule for being fat. That’s tantamount to Keith Richards mocking Limbaugh for being a drug addict.
- And then, of course, there was the John Boehner/Bibi Netanyahu stunt in March of last year, where the House Republicans invited a foreign leader who was hostile to the Obama administration to speak from the People’s House in an effort to undermine a multi-national peace package. Behind the back of the President, of course.
- Or the peripherally related Tom Cotton letter that was sent to the Mullahs of the Iranian government, signed by no fewer than forty-seven Republican Senators, informing Tehran that any agreement brokered by President Obama will be subject to review when they regain control of the Executive. Good luck with that.
- And of course, we can’t forget the dishonorable Mitch McConnell, who within hours of the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia announced that there would be no further Supreme Court appointments under this President. An unprecedented abdication of McConnell’s responsibilities, and a blatant act of obstruction. The party of NO had gone full-circle, fulfilling their treasonous resolution of Election Day 2009.
So what grade do we give this president? It’s too soon for history to make the final judgment, but considering the steaming mountain of manure he was handed by his predecessor, not to mention the obstruction he endured from his pals across the aisle, I’d be inclined to give him an A+.
And what grade would be befitting of the Party of Lincoln over the past 7-1/2 years? The carriers of the banner of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Ronald Reagan; who never hesitated to reach across the aisle to work with Tip O’Neil. How did today’s Republicans measure up during the era of the nation’s first African-American president? And what grade do we give the party leadership and their media arm for confronting and suppressing the racists in their midst?
I’ll leave that up to the historians to judge that one. But I have a feeling history won’t be kind.
Featured image: Composite with Creative Commons images by DonkeyHotey.