There used to be an unwritten tradition in Washington in which a newly inaugurated president would get a 100-day “honeymoon.” It was a way of respecting the will of the majority of voters by allowing the president to advance the agenda that led him to the White House.
Unfortunately, this courtesy is a thing of the past. The Republican opposition began this new legislative session where the previous legislaturewhich closed out the session by slamming the door on aid to victims of Superstorm Sandyended it.
It is true that Obama did not have a honeymoon in the beginning of his first term either. On the one hand, there was the economic urgency of the Great Recession; on the other, the immediate decision by the opposition to do anything possible to prevent Obama’s re-election. Now the opposition, which controls the House of Representatives, started the new legislative session on the warpath.
How else to explain that Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) said that Republicans must “tolerate” a government shutdown and that his colleague John Cornyn (R-TX) explained that it “may be necessary to partially shut down the government.” This dynamic that multiplies within a divided Republican caucus shows the bad foot on which this session of Congress is starting. There is a prevailing feeling among several legislators that they were elected to stop Obama’s agenda. If only they thought of governing for the well-being of all within a representative democracy.
These lawmakers should understand that the majority of voters rejected their ideas and do not wish to be rescued by them. If voters had wanted that, they would have chosen Mitt Romney.
The worst partremembering a recent pastis that there is a reasonable concern that these lawmakers, in their ideological blindness, might choose to sink the ship instead of negotiating the salvation of its passengers. That at least seems to be the path they have chosen for the upcoming negotiation to raise the debt ceiling.
The strategy of governing by causing one crisis after another already hurt the country’s credit rating and the GOP in the presidential election. However, it seems like they did not learn the lesson.