Many years ago, a friend once told me that he considered me an optimist. Outraged, I pointed out my numerous cynical comments and countered that I was a realist at best, a pessimist at my worse. I was appalled that he viewed me as some pie-in-the-sky Pollyanna who only saw the good in everyone. In other words, I let him have it.
Undeterred, he continued. I was an optimist, he said, because I expected people to do the right thing and (emphasis mine) I was disappointed when they didn’t.
I opened my mouth to protest, but then I closed it again. As much as I didn’t want to agree, I had to admit that he was right. If the definition of an optimist is to be constantly disappointed when people do the wrong thing (and it makes sense in an odd sort of way), then I was an optimist.
I am bringing this up because the Grand Old Party (with emphasis on Old) is acting in such a way to reinforce my peculiar brand of optimism. As the entire world knows, Obama ran on a platform of bipartisanship. He was going to do whatever it took to bring people together. This is one of his greatest strenghs, and it can be one of his greatest weaknesses.
At any rate, President Obama (I just had to type that once again) has put great stock in reaching out towards the right. In addition, the Republicans are hemorrhaghing voters at an alarming rate. They are gnashing their teeth over how to matter once again. Some of the more centrist Republicans have even been making noise about diversity and easing up on the partisan rhetoric. Put all of this together, and I dared to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, the GOP would put truly put country first for once.
Here is where I am an idiot as well as an optimist. It didn’t take long before the Republicans started up the same old crap. In fact, it started the very same day that President Obama became President of the United States. John Cornyn, Senator of Texas, decided to delay Hillary Clinton’s nomination as Secretary of State, just because. He was going to vote for her, but he wanted to make a song and dance about her husband first.
Then, it was Senator Minority Whip, Jon Kyl calling Obama’s inauguration speech lowbrow. Now, while it wasn’t the most eloquent speech Obama has ever given, it certainly wasn’t lowbrow. In fact, I don’t think Kyl really knows what the word means because he goes on to say that he will not roll over and play dead for the new prez, though in not such lowbrow speech, of course.
Next, it was the Committee of whatever and Arlen Specter requesting a week’s delay on Eric Holder’s confirmation as Attorney General. By all accounts, he will be confirmed. The Republicans just had to piss and moan about it in order to get some K Street cred and to get some face time.
This was all in the first two days! I didn’t expect the Republicans to become reasonable overnight, but I certainly thought they would be willing to at least be adults for once. Apparently, I was sorely mistaken.
Part of the problem is that most of the centrist Republicans have been frozen out of the party as the far right takes control of the reins. Republicans only won in deep red states and parts of states, maroon, if you will, so the inmates have taken over the prison.
As a lefty, I should be glad that the Republicans have dug in and veered sharply towards the left despite losing soundly in the last two election cycles. After all, it will make the next election cycle just that much more appetizing for Democratic challengers. However, as an American, I am disgusted by the needless partisanship that the Republicans are displaying–to the detriment of the country.
To that end, I am, indeed, a realist. If President Obama wants to get things done, it’s going to have to be in spite of the Republicans. In other words, politics as usual.