Obama v. Boehner: A tale of two leaders

If President Obama is leader of the free world, Speaker of the House Boehner is arguably the co-leader.  Though the history of their relationship hardly lends itself to the concept of them being co-anythings, they are, none the less our country’s key leaders.

Pundits on both sides had harsh reviews for comments made this weekend by opposition leaders, but the comments, themselves framed two very different men. Those comments will follow both men and define them in ways yet to be determined.

President Obama, with determination and deliberative forebearance has plotted a course in history defined by fierce, personal opposition, legislative achievement and unparalleled equilibrium at a time plagued by violence and economic upheaval.

Whether you love him or hate him, the fact remains that he was one of the most accomplished first-term presidents. As Obamacare seeps into the pores of our existence, many who were previously opposed are uncovering benefits they no longer wish to forfeit. GOP leaders are having a harder time selling repeal to their constituents.

History will remember Barack Obama as a major force in stopping the carnage of the Great Recession of 2008, just as it will remember the policies that led up to it.  From the perspective of his base, the Obama administration has been disappointingly opaque and overly acquiescent to the obstructionism and unwillingness to compromise on the Right.

President Obama’s impromptu, sans teleprompter speech on Friday was one of the most personal, heartfelt speeches I’ve seen from any president, ever.  When he said, ” Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago”, we knew exactly what he meant, despite whatever idiotic things Sean Hannity might say.

Speaking those words, President Obama stepped out onto a high wire with no net to catch him.  He knew the risks and the reaction he would get from his opponents who are never able to put their political gamesmanship aside for even a moment to address one of our country’s unhealed wounds.

Though speaking as a man and as a father, speaking to the plight of African-American men across the nation as the first black president was probably not something the President took lightly.  While risky, it was something that needed to be done, just as any leader of any race, religion or creed should speak out about inequality.  President Obama has, if nothing else shown himself to be a man willing to do what needs to be done.

Speaker of the House Boehner’s comments, however left me scratching my head.   Boehner suggested that Congress not be judged for the laws it passed, but for the laws it repealed.  Considering that congressmen are, in fact lawmakers, that would be like judging firemen not for the fires they put out, but for the ones they start.

Again, the tale of the tape is irrefutable.  This congress has enacted less legislation and taken more votes than any in history. Even if we were to use Boehner’s own benchmark of excellence, he and his cohorts are still dismal failures.   At this very writing they have unsuccessfully voted 39 times to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare).

In a way, it’s not surprising.  Major league baseball players are handsomely rewarded for not doing their jobs.  A good batting average is .300, which means that more than 2/3 of the time a good batter won’t even get a hit.   Alex Rodriguez makes about $27 Million per year and his best average (.358) was in 1996. He’s only batted over .300 twice since signing his 10-year deal in 2007.

Mitch McConnell, Boehner’s senatorial counterpart said early on that the goal of the Republican party was to ensure the failure of the Obama presidency.  It doesn’t require much logic, deductive reasoning or political savvy to understand that working toward the failure of a presidency is also working toward the detriment of the country.  And yet, many of them were re-elected in 2010.

In all fairness to Boehner, he’s shown his vulnerability, as well.  He cried during his 60 Minutes interview as he talked about his rise to Speaker of the House.  The problem is, our government was not set up to be a market place for professional politicians.   Men were expected to serve their constituents and then return to their farms.  Apparently the Founding Fathers didn’t think term limits a necessity, nor could they conceptualize an army of professional lobbyists.

Politics aside, I think these two men will be judged very differently by future generations. In the truest measure of men, I think that history will find John Boehner and many of his comrades severely lacking for their short-sighted obstructionism and small-minded partisanship.  These men are elected officials.   I don’t see a place of honor for a legacy of shirked responsibility.

In an appeal to Congress in September of 2011, President Obama asked them no less than 18 times to pass the American Jobs Act to bring employment to Americans.   Based on John Boehner’s grading system, Congress earned an A+ for not passing that important piece of legislation.

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  • Bravo!! The best blog I've ever read.

  • In reply to Tego:

    Thank you. I try my best.

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