On Friday, President Obama got all farmisht in his kepele and mixed up his sci-fi universes, causing nerds everywhere to explode like a peaceful planet that has no weapons under assault by a fleet of Klingon Birds of Prey. Way to alienate your biggest constituency, Nobummer! Still, when the smoke from the laser blasters cleared, the question remained: what on this or any other unexploded planet could Barack Obama possibly do to get Republicans to actually negotiate a deal to stop this stupid sequester thing? Would anyone like to guess, after the jump?
Your answer is probably “nothing” in which case you all fail! The correct answer is “show leadership.” That the president does not somehow lead is one of the more annoying memes that wingnuts have been pushing for all four years and change that Obama has been in office. Obama needs to show “presidential leadership,” whines Yertl the Turtle, right before he refuses to talk to Obama about the fiscal cliff and makes Bamz send over Wonker favorite Old Handsome Joe Biden instead. “He doesn’t have the guts” to do what needs to be done, snipes Orange Julius, just days after he promises the nursery-school brats in his caucus that he will no longer negotiate with Obama on any issue. All of this dialogue, by the way, is straight out of Wonkette Publishing’s new nonfiction children’s book, Butthurt the GOP Elephant Has a Giant Sad.
This weekend we got a shining example of the utter existential futility our president must feel every day when dealing with the nitwits in the opposition party, in the form of the debate over tying Social Security payments to the Chained Consumer Price Index (CCPI). “Chained” SSI is something conservatives have long wanted because it would recalculate the way the government measures inflation, leading to slower growth of every Social Security recipient’s yearly cost-of-living increases. This idea gives entitlement-loathing conservatives such a chubby that it has been endorsed by no less a luminary than Eric Cantor, a man so stingy he once refused emergency aid for his own district after a hurricane because he didn’t want to add to the national debt. As recently as this past December, the GOP was demanding CCPI be a part of any “fiscal cliff” deal but eventually took it off the table in order to get a deal done.
(Keep that last factoid in mind until you finish reading this post, at which time you will be free to headdesk until sweet unconsciousness takes you.)
Now two months later we are faced with yet another “fiscal crisis” our leaders created in yet another effort to avoid taking responsibility for anything ever. And wouldn’t you know it, President Lazybones Jones refuses to do anything to solve the problem. Let’s turn it over to WaPo dreamboat geek Ezra Klein for a quick summation:
Would it matter, one reporter asked the veteran legislator, if the president were to put chained-CPI — a policy that reconfigures the way the government measures inflation and thus slows the growth of Social Security benefits — on the table?
“Absolutely,” the legislator said. “That’s serious.”
Another reporter jumped in. “But it is on the table! They tell us three times a day that they want to do chained-CPI.”
“Who wants to do it?” said the legislator.
“The president,” replied the reporter.
“I’d love to see it,” laughed the legislator.
Needless to say, as Klein points out, the president has long made CCPI a part of his plan for solving the sequester nonsense. It is right here on the official White House website. It has been right here on the official White House website since at least February 21, a full week before the above exchange occurred, and Obama was happy to make it part of the fiscal cliff deal last December (before, we will just mention again, the GOP pulled it off the table). Way to earn your paycheck, anonymous congressperson.
Anyway, this led on Saturday to an exciting and sexy TWITTER FIGHT involving various pundits, including Klein and one Mike Murphy, a GOP consultant and strategist and allegedly one of those mythical Republican “moderates” we keep hearing about but thought had long been hunted to extinction for the crime of moral squishiness.
(We pause here to send a shout-out to our beloved Uncle Jimmy, self-proclaimed moderate Republican, last seen wandering dazed and incoherent into the rugged Maryland countryside, clutching his tattered Ripon Society membership card in one hand and muttering the name “Nelson Rockefeller” over and over. We hope you make it back home safe and sound one day, Uncle Jimmy!)
Murphy had recently written in Time that if the president wanted the GOP to come to the table, he should endorse CCPI. When several pundits this past Saturday pointed out to Murphy on Twitter that the president has indeed done so (right here on the official White House website!) he first denied it, then dismissed Obama’s particular CCPI proposal as a “small-beans gimmick.” So to sum up: first this top Republican, a one-time strategist for the last two GOP presidential candidates and writer for a major weekly news magazine, does not know there exists a proposal for something he has deemed crucial to sequester negotiations, then denies the existence of the proposal, then says “Meh, proposal shmoposal, it’s too small and I just decided he has to do a bunch of other stuff too so shut up argle bargle derp.”
Note to Bob Woodward: that is moving the goalposts.
It was at this point that yr Wonkette, having weathered our own head exploding several times as we scrolled through this thread, injected ourselves into the conversation by tweeting at Murphy that whatever the merits of the proposal, telling your readers and followers that it does not even exist is a flat-out lie. Murphy immediately blocked us, because that is a more courageous way of dealing with dissent than admitting that you were wrong. And that being wrong made your point about the president a lie. A giant, irrefutable lie.
But the problem according to the villagers in Washington — oh, and at The New York Times — is all that President Obama will not “show leadership” in order to magically convince the GOP to negotiate a deal. Right. We will now sign off and spend the rest of the day reading “No Exit,” because that is more hopeful than this stupid play being staged by our nation’s leaders.