Obama can’t change Washington. Can anyone?

WASHINGTON – Hope and change, allow me to introduce you to money and lobbyists. Compromise and bi-partisanship, come meet ideological purity. Now, let’s see if we can get some work done.

With his rousing State of the Union speech, President Obama almost had me persuaded, once again, that he can change a political culture that is self-indulgent, hyper-partisan and steeped in monied special interests. He was, by turns, funny and contrite, firm and mature, using his bully pulpit to urge Congress to abandon a “perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headline about the other side — a belief that if you lose, I win.”

Though the president has had a tough first year — a year of Republican obstructionism, bi-partisan pettiness and legislative sausage-making — his powerful commitment to keep on trying to overcome gridlock restored my idealism. For a moment or two.

Then, I remembered that there were lobbyists and professional pollsters and cynical party hacks who were already at work to turn the State of the Union speech into a partisan call to arms. While no political opponent yelled out, “You lie!,” during the speech, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) suffered no loss of stature for doing so last September.  As Sen. Jim DeMint has noted, “After he raised a few million dollars off of it, I was thinking, ‘Why didn’t I say that?’ “

As for Democrats, they waited an entire 14 minutes, according to the website Talking Points Memo, before they sent out to reporters video clips from the speech with an embarrassing headline. Look to see that same video, in which Republicans failed to applaud Obama’s call for a tax on banks, in ads soon.  Of course, those advertisements will be expensive to run in large markets and will require more campaign donations.

Some observers thought the president was impolite to take on the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign finance. Obama wasn’t rude; he was right. With a ruling that was as “activist” as any of the last 20 years, an ideologically-riven court overturned precedent, granted corporations the rights of humans and opened the floodgates to influence-peddling, many believe, from foreign interests.

Already, corporations flood voters with pseudo-facts from outfits whose names pervert the truth. A group called “Clean Water for Kids,” for example, might be funded by a giant polluter that poisons groundwater near schools. With the latest Supreme Court ruling, Saudi princes might fund a front called “ForeignOilSavesUSA.”

The money is poisonous. So are the politics of fear, opposition and obstruction. Inside the Beltway, it’s fashionable in some quarters to take an above-the-fray, pox-on-both-their-houses view of Congressional dysfunction. Fashionable, but not factual.

Democrats aren’t paragons of virtue. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has rightly been mocked and scorned for an ugly bit of behind-the-scenes, porkbarrel deal-making that promised his vote on the health care bill in return for millions for his state.  His vote-sale outraged many, and understandably so.

Still, it’s Republicans who have abandoned any attempt at governance. They have upped the ante on hyper-partisanship, coarsened the discourse and abandoned comity.

The Republican Party has been taken over by its extremists — held hostage by the tea-partying, give-no-quarter, brook-no-compromise ideological purists. You know that when U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), a leading candidate for governor of Georgia, challenges the president to prove he’s a U.S. citizen.

Blame Republicans in the Senate for using the filibuster to outflank simple democratic processes. Because the GOP now threatens a filibuster before practically every Senate vote, an extra-constitutional super-majority is necessary for almost any bill to pass. That’s certainly not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Sadly, this dysfunctional system is working pretty well for the folks who use it to stay in office. It’s just not working for the rest of us.

UPDATE: White House officials made a brilliant move when they requested that cameras keep rolling during the president’s “question time” with House Republicans. For all of you who keep using the talking points’ insistence that Obama can’t say anything with a teleprompter, you might want to watch the entire thing, courtesy of C-SPAN.

242 comments Add your comment

not a CT fan

January 29th, 2010
5:42 pm

The truth is: Obama is a liar. He thought he could fool a lot of people and he did. That’s how he got elected.

citizen

January 29th, 2010
6:02 pm

As I’ve quoted before, Charisma has to be followed by accomplishment or, like beauty, charisma fades. Ms. Tucker, may I remind you, the Democrats have the majority in the House, they had the majority in the Senate and the President is a Democrat; to give the power of obstructionism to the Republicans is just too disingenous.

eddy

January 29th, 2010
6:19 pm

Keep blaming Bush and the Repubs at least until November! The hole is so deep now but the dim Dems continue to dig. What part of the word “majority” don’t you get! With that majority, the Dems can do anything they choose up until the Mass vote but they did nothing…as in nothing, nada, zip zero. Could it be that some of the moderate Dems were the problem within their party. But then again, Bush and the Repubs are just so convenient to blame and it requires little to no thought or brain cells…just a normal reflex action for the Dems to blame them. Does “Please don’t throw me into that briar patch” ring a bell… let us all chant in unision now, it’s Bush’s fault and the Repubs fault, you know. Gotta love’em. Can’t cure stupid!!!

Jess

January 29th, 2010
6:19 pm

I can’t answer the question fully, but I can say with great assurance that signing his first bill into law with over 5000 earmarks was probably not a good way to show he was serious about changing the culture. As far as republican obstructionists, Obama had a fillibuster proof majority in Congress until last week. Blaming the repubs. is not a credible argument.

Sunshine and Thunder

January 29th, 2010
6:39 pm

“…a ruling that was as “activist” as any of the last 20 years, an ideologically-riven court overturned precedent, granted corporations the rights of humans and opened the floodgates to influence-peddling”

So you agree that when the Constitution says “people” it doesn’t mean the state. Well you’re finally getting it.

“Already, corporations flood voters with pseudo-facts from outfits whose names pervert the truth. A group called “Clean Water for Kids,”’

The democrats do that with everything they touch.

“With the latest Supreme Court ruling, Saudi princes might fund a front called “ForeignOilSavesUSA.””

Nothing in the ruling gave foreign interests any exemption from the campaign laws. You should know that, Cytnthia.

Jess

January 29th, 2010
6:50 pm

Very weak column Cynthia. Obama has been in the pocket of special interest from day one. Just two weeks ago he gave a $60,000,000,000 favor to one of his favorites, the unions. And pardon, but Mr. Nelson was not in a position to give himself the $300,000,000 favor. Someone had to approve this, and I expect the approval came from none other than his highness.

F. Sinkwich

January 29th, 2010
6:53 pm

All these comments so far are dead-on.

Ms. Tucker has the audacity to say, “That’s certainly not what the Founding Fathers had in mind,” when conservatives do their best to obstruct the extra-constitutional initiatives of our far-leftist president. Then she hurls insults at “tea-partying, give-no-quarter, brook-no-compromise ideological purists” who only want our government to function as originally intended.

I’m no anarchist — government is a necessary part of a well functioning society. All I ask is we adhere to the Constitution.

Michael H. Smith

January 29th, 2010
7:01 pm

Obama can’t change Washington. Can anyone?

Yes, comrade Cynthia: “We the People” can.

kayaker 71

January 29th, 2010
7:06 pm

CT,

You deride the evil tea party “activists” for expressing their God given right to an opinion about what is going on inside the Beltway. This is the first populist uprising in my memory that has made it’s opinion known in open forum. They are against the same things you seem to be going on about. They are sick and tired of the status quo, the lobbyists that buy off politicians, the huge spending that has had little to no effect in improving the economy and the influence of big government on the common man. You don’t have to agree with them, however they have every right to express their opinion about the mess that we find ourselves in. Just like you have the right to criticize them. It’s called free speech, Cynthia.

Kevin

January 29th, 2010
7:33 pm

Obama’s failures are everyone’s fault except, well, Obama.

It’s the Republicans fault. It’s the lobbyists’ fault. It’s the pollsters fault. It’s the tea-baggers’ fault. I genuinely think you need to put down the Kool-Aid and accept, for just a moment, that this guy is a politician, not a god, and that maybe, just maybe, he’s not succeeding because people genuinely don’t agree with his politics. I know it’s hard to process that thought, but please try.

And Mr. Obama was rude to the Supreme Court. I like how you call it “not rude, right”? Seriously? Just because something is “right” to you, hardly makes it not rude. Rude is rude.

Scout

January 29th, 2010
8:43 pm

Enter your comments here

Scout

January 29th, 2010
8:45 pm

He can’t change Washington to what it should/used to be because he is going the opposite direction like a runaway freight train going downhill (I used to be a brakeman – you can’t stop the train until you get to level ground).

As I replied to you in my previous posts :

Scout
January 29th, 2010
12:35 pm
There is a lot of “usurpation” of the Constitution going on ……… by all three branches of our government !

ctucker
January 29th, 2010
12:47 pm
Was that “usurpation” going on under Bush-Cheney?

To Ms. Tucker:
Yes – usurpation by Republicans and Democrats! That’s why I am a conservative and belong to no party. Our federal government is out of control.

The 10th Amendment needs to be enforced and sooner or later (and some way or another) the “people” are going to do it.

samuel

January 29th, 2010
8:48 pm

In Obama’s debate with the Republicans today, every single R read a prepared question or statement. Obama answered every one off-the-cuff, without a script or notes. He actually thought before he spoke in a way Reagan or Bush Jr. never did. So much for Obama as the teleprompter-in-chief.

Jess

January 29th, 2010
9:00 pm

samuel,

Answering, and giving a good answer, are quite different things. When called, my dog will answer without a teleprompter. I have no idea whether it’s a good answer or not however.

Chris Broe

January 29th, 2010
9:06 pm

Good points by all.

Mr Charlie

January 29th, 2010
9:11 pm

Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, look like a fool with your pants on the ground. I think that about sums up what America thinks of Obama, Democrats, Liberals and “Change” (wink wink) in general.

I want to thank that man on American Idol for so eloquently placing words on what I have been thinking for some time.

CrowDog

January 29th, 2010
9:19 pm

Obama is part of Washington and has been for years so this lie he keeps telling proves he can’t tell the truth. Republicans have been shut out of the debates, Cynthia, have you been reading the same news and looking at the same channels I have. Nancy Pelosi put Democrats in a room and did not invite ANY Republicans. Did you hear about HR 3400 the Republican healthcare solution? Did you hear about the proposal from a Texas congressman to suspend the pryroll tax and income tax for X amount of months which would have been better than Obama’s stimulas which has not worked?

Just &&^m!!!!

Dave

January 29th, 2010
9:26 pm

CT, you’ve finally gone off the deap end, not worth even trying to made sense of your denial of the failures of Mr. Ombama. Hope you continue your mindless dribble, as you too will soon be a thing of the past.

samuel

January 29th, 2010
9:26 pm

Jess, your dog must be smarter than Reagan, Bush, Tom Price, most R’s in Congress and all the conservatives on this blog. Your dog may even be smarter than you.

Mule

January 29th, 2010
9:34 pm

Any system that will continue to expose Obama the liar is a good system. This man will destroy our country unless he is defeated at the polls. Come November we can silence much of his socialistic bent by voting for GOP and independents. And in 2012, we must all make extra efforts to defeat the stimulus, Acorn, special liberal interest groups and other money, and put this man in the unemployment line.

TnGelding

January 29th, 2010
9:35 pm

For the most part the threat of a filibuster has served us well. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the meeting they had today. Hopefully something good will come of it. The president admitted there had been misrepresentations on both sides but firmly challenged the GOP to stop poisoning the well so badly it prohibited working together. It’s up to the voices of reason (any takers here?) to run for office and get elected before there is any real change.

TnGelding

January 29th, 2010
9:37 pm

Mule

January 29th, 2010
9:34 pm

This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that has to stop. You can’t seriously believe it.

joan

January 29th, 2010
9:48 pm

Your slobbering idolation of Obama discounts anything you say about him. The man is a God to you as evidence your first paragraph. I can almost see you drooling. The facts are he simply doesn’t deliver on his promises. Haven’t you learned that yet? Obama reeks of progressivism–he believes the government knows better than the people what the people want. He is wrong. Progressivism has been tried by stronger people than him and failed, and it will fail again.

Rita

January 29th, 2010
9:57 pm

The Republicans got schooled in their own lion’s den today, pure and simple. To watch our President thoroughly and methodically dissect and destroy every GOP argument was truly a beautiful thing.

Abrazos

January 29th, 2010
10:03 pm

Wow, the Q&A at the REpublican retreat today was a blast to watch. It went something like this:

”Mr. President: Talking point, talking point, tired talking point ..Misleading Question”

Answer: “Straight facts…SMACKDOWN ”

“Mr. President: Talking point, talking point, tired talking point ..Misleading Question”

“Answer: Straight facts…SMACKDOWN ”

‘Mr. President: Talking point, talking point, tired talking point…Misleading Question”

“Answer: Straight facts…SMACKDOWN “

QueDawg

January 29th, 2010
10:12 pm

It really amazes me how people reality has slipped into oblivion. Can anyone really expect the President to make changes without help? Republicans remind me of my two year old. All we get out of them are NOs and tantrums. Can people just sit back and ask themselves what is better for the greater good of people. Most Republicans I know would love to let healthcare be dealth with in the free market until that first heart attack!!!

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
10:16 pm

I truelly believe both sides are trying to destroy this great nation. May you all burn in Hell.

Scout

January 29th, 2010
10:23 pm

Obama can’t change Washington because he couldn’t even change Chicago.

Liberal Pariah

January 29th, 2010
10:25 pm

I am searching the archives for CT’s critical column on all the left wing extremist obstructionist partisanship the Dems displayed even before GW was sworn in. And searching and searching and searching……

Keep up the good fight!

January 29th, 2010
10:26 pm

The ignorance of the wingnut comments never ceases to amaze me. Rather than respond and address the points made about problems in changing the politics of Washington and acknowledging that both parties share fault, the wingnuts keep attacking, providing the feedback that “justifies” the politics. If Obama cant change it immediately, he must not have meant it right? Washington is a tanker not a speed boat, changing course takes time. Did you ever see Bush go into the lions den of the opposing party? Bush would never even speak to a crowd that might not support him – they were filtered.

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
10:33 pm

The deficit rose 2 trillion dollars on Dubbya’s watch. Most ever on any presidents watch. He wanted TARP passed without oversight. Obama has been a screwup, but to all of a sudden claim that the GOP is the “peoples party” is a joke. Make no mistake, Obama may doing a crappy job, but it is a Republican mess he’s trying to clean up. Your all drinking the Kool-Aid.

Change

January 29th, 2010
10:33 pm

Tell you what CT, to conserve keystokes, CPU wear and tear, oxygen, and any unique original thought or perspective, I suggest you simply title all of your blogs “(D) good, (R) bad; failure – good, success – bad; and, Oblamea – God”….

Taxing

January 29th, 2010
10:37 pm

“…rousing State of the Union speech…” — seems we all heard was “I (Clap, Clap, Clap)… Me (Clap, Clap, Clap)… I (Clap, Clap, Clap)…I (Clap, Clap, Clap)… and on, and on, and on….

mmm, mmm, mmm, Barack the LIAR Obama

January 29th, 2010
10:39 pm

Change we can believe in? Hmmm. Didn’t take long for that song to suck!
TERM LIMITS and ENDING ALL PORK SPENDING is the answer.

Abrazos

January 29th, 2010
10:40 pm

“Bush would never even speak to a crowd that might not support him – they were filtered.”

Very true. And lest we forget, American citizens were arrested if they had the “wrong” message on their T-shirts yet somehow gained entrance to those filtered events.

Liberal Pariah

January 29th, 2010
10:41 pm

Hey hate everybody, it is a Washington mess he needs to clean up but he’s not really trying. No partisanship, no transparency. Same old, same old from Obama. No Liberal has been able to cite one example of a campaign promise that he has kept that has even been an attempt at change.

Grumpy

January 29th, 2010
10:42 pm

What Obama did today, taking on 100 Republicans by himself, was a fantastic start. He made most of them sound like fools. Now the Democrats need to see if the Republicans actually WILL filibuster, not just threaten one. Call their bluff.

mmm, mmm, mmm, Barack the LIAR Obama

January 29th, 2010
10:43 pm

Grumpy, you sound more like DOPEY.

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
10:44 pm

Dumb republicans. Obama=God. Genius. Dumb Liberals. Keep ignoring the signs.

Liberal Pariah

January 29th, 2010
10:46 pm

Good fight. I agree that Washington is more like a large cruise ship than a speed boat and change will take time. Is there anything that Obama is doing that would make one think he even has his hand on the wheel?

Workingmom

January 29th, 2010
10:46 pm

Yes to your question Ms. Tucker. But it’s not the ones we elect who will change Washington, it is the people. I would encourage everyone to start listening to Glenn Beck on the subject.

There is going to be a rally I think in Aug. in Washington to demand that the government be moved closer to the people……..that means the States will again provide the bulk of governance and the Feds will again take on their assigned roles.

Yes, Obama can not change Washington, no politician can. The system is not designed to be changed.

Workingmom

January 29th, 2010
10:49 pm

“The deficit rose 2 trillion dollars on Dubbya’s watch. Most ever on any presidents watch”

No spin zone. Thats not a true statement.

Workingmom

January 29th, 2010
10:50 pm

“Obama may doing a crappy job, but it is a Republican mess he’s trying to clean up.”

The Dems were in Control for the last two years of Bush’s second term. The Dems, over the loud and repeated warnings from the Bush Admin. that Fannie and Freddie were out of control, did zero to start the lending to people who could not afford the loans. Can’t blame Bush on that one. Frank, Dodd and Waters are on tape saying that Fred and Fran were in fine shape. Can’t find Bush saying that.

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
10:50 pm

Hey Lib Pariah, and the GOP is trying? Please. Let’s be real here. The Dems $&!/ the bed and the Pubs are dancing around like children winning a tug-of-war game. Guess who loses? Us. The working middle class. Left for the poor, Right for the rich. While we get screwed. I don’t agree with everything CT says, but she’s right about nothing EVER will get accomplished.

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
10:53 pm

Yes it is working dude. Look it up. Obama might beat that record, but true none the less. I guess a needless (Iraq) can do that.

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
10:57 pm

Don’t lie working gal. Both parties saw money when the libs said “homes for everyone”. And the banks said “hell yeah!”. When the economy faultered in the early augurs, it was the Pubs who said “Clinton’s Fault!”

Owl

January 29th, 2010
10:57 pm

You go girl! I’m totally convinced by this aricle now….write more of them like this.

I hate the Left and the Right

January 29th, 2010
11:00 pm

That’s right. This all happend in the last 2 years. Whatever helps you sleep at night

Liberal Pariah

January 29th, 2010
11:04 pm

Left and right. I totally agree that Washington is dysfunctional and that it is difficult to get ’stuff done’. But the harm to us working folks is not what Washington doesn’t do, it’s what they have done. We’d be better off if they never passed another law like the ones they have passed and are passing now. My kids think I am the party of NO because I say NO to the things that are bad for them. So if there are people saying NO in Washington to the bad ideas and laws that are being rammed down our throat, I say NO, NO and more NO.

Workingmom

January 29th, 2010
11:04 pm

“Both parties saw money when the libs said “homes for everyone”.

Look, I am no Bush fan at all. But I can’t agree with you, the Bush admin repeatedly told Frank, Dodd, and crew that Fred and Fann were out of control. Its documented.

And yes, the Banks knew the wall was going to come down. They just hoped to sell all their loans to Fred and Fann before the crap hit the fan.