Out of the Woods: How did the anti-Obama gridlock begin?
Question: With the stalemate between both major parties in Congress seen by voters as the biggest obstacle to getting America back to the world's leadership position, when did the GOP launch its Machiavellian plan to paralyze the federal government?
Answer: The night of President Barack Obama's first inauguration on Jan. 20, 2008!
As many people wonder if President Obama will be able to break the gridlock in Washington, it may come as news -- even now --to remind everyone exactly when this historic and costly stalemate in Congress began. The "How to Stop Obama" dinner meeting, as it was first called by the Republicans, was held on the evening of the inauguration.
While all of the nation's top officials were celebrating the inauguration, twelve senior Republican Congressmen held a secret meeting in a famous D.C. restaurant to plot a strategy to sabotage the president as he planned to improve the economy and the unemployment situation. Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and presidential candidate, along with Paul Ryan, who attended the meeting, confirmed the agenda. Their goal was to make sure President Obama was a one-term president no matter how badly it hurt the country and its people.
It is stunning that on the same night of the inaugural balls, the Republicans met to determine how to prevent Obama's re-election even before he had a chance to reach out across the aisle! All of their efforts to stop the president have fallen far short, although whispers of "impeachment" can still be heard in the corridors of Congress.
Here are parts of a report that appeared later on the internet about that night:
"As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington at the high-end restaurant, "The Caucus Room."
The event, which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured, served as the prologue to author Robert Draper's much-discussed and heavily-reported 2012 book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives."
According to Draper: "The guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. "Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio, who," Draper writes, "had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz."
For several hours in the Caucus Room, the book says: "They plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama's legislative platform.
"If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority," Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."
"The conversation got only more specific from there," Draper reports. " Kyl suggested going after incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at the International Monetary Fund. Gingrich noted that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had a similar tax problem. McCarthy chimed in to declare `there's a web' before arguing that Republicans could put pressure on any Democrat who accepted campaign money from Rangel to give it back.
"The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward: `Go after Geithner. (And, indeed Kyl did, the next day: `Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it -- please?')
"Show united and unyielding opposition to the president's economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous `No' against Obama's economic stimulus plan.)
According to the online report:
"The votes, of course, can be attributed to legitimate philosophical objection to the idea of stimulus spending as well as sincere concern that the secretary of the treasury should personally have a clean tax-paying record. But, what Draper's book makes clear is that blunt electoral-minded ambitions were the animating force.
"Whether or not that's shocking depends on the degree to which one's view of politics has been jaded. What's certainly noteworthy is the timing. When Mitch McConnell said in October 2010 that his party's primary goal in the next Congress was to make Obama a one-term president, it was treated as remarkably candid and deeply cynical. Had he said it publicly in January 2009, it would likely have caused an uproar.
"Their racist attacks on the President and others have not gone unnoticed. The bigotry of the Republican Party today is on display for all to see as leaders made their comments and innuendos toward the President and then run out to apologize, not understanding how anyone could think the comment was racist..."
No matter. There still remain tens of millions of American voters who fervently believe, as I do, that the election and re-election of Barack Obama will be judged by historians in the future as one of the most significant in American history in terms of saving our capitalistic system and making affordable health care available to a majority of citizens, among other accomplishments
Woody Klein is a Westport writer, and his "Out of the Woods" appears every other Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com