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Unsurprisingly, reaction is mixed on both sides of the aisle. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) think it’s a hoax that fails to address the underlying debt problem. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) think it is “thoughtful and unique” and “has merit,” respectively. Florida freshman Rep. Allen West (R-FL) considers it “an acquiescence.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) characterized it best. “McConnell said it’s a last-ditch backup plan. When we get here a couple weeks from now, we may be looking for all kinds of ideas,” he said.
Although some have referred to McConnell’s plan as an “out of the box” idea, it is hard to get past the level of political cynicism embodied by a plan that is based on nothing more than Republicans hoping voters in 2012 will be more inclined to blame Democrats for reckless spending, rather than Republicans for standing aside while it occurred. Furthermore, it may backfire. According to a Gallup poll taken July 7-10, Americans, by a 42-22 percent margin, want their elected representative to vote against raising the debt ceiling. Another third are unsure.
On the other hand, McConnell’s plan may reflect a sobering reality best expressed by McConnell himself. “After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable,” he said. “I truly believed, perhaps naïvely, that this administration would see the necessity of preserving Social Security and Medicare for future generations. In the end, it appears that the perceived electoral success of demagoguing a solution proved its undoing,” he added.
More of that demagoguing apparently occurred on Wednesday. According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Mr. Obama “abruptly walked out” of the latest debt ceiling negotiations, after telling Mr. Cantor that no other president would put up with the way he was being treated by the majority leader. He then warned Cantor he would take his case “to the American people.”
Make that some of the American people. For a president who has made a career out of playing one group of Americans off another, his “case” will always come down to the ultimate expression of demagoguery: “us” against “them.”
Yet a president willing to threaten older Americans with a scenario based on a lie, despite all the dismissals of that statement by his media allies, has crossed a line. It is a crossing which reveals the true nature of this president’s approach to governance:
As long as Barack Obama remains in the Oval Office, America will never run out of “crises.”
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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