On Jan. 20, 2009, while new President Barack Obama attended an inauguration ball, certain key Republicans met at a Washington restaurant just a short distance away to plan their partys direction for the next four years. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich, Eric Cantor and 12 others talked for four hours that night.
They settled on several tactics in response to the presidents one-sided electoral victory over John McCain. They agreed to portray President Obama as the nations enemy, fight him on everything and bring the country to a standstill. The basic strategy was to block any action in Congress that might bring credit to the president. Their belief was that the public would blame him, not the Republican Party, for the resulting gridlock. The agreed-upon purpose of these efforts was to defeat Obama in 2012. Author and New York Times contributor Robert Draper has described and carefully documented this meeting in his book Do Not Ask What Good We Do.
Here are just three of the negative consequences for the United States that came as a direct result of the strategy chosen by Republican leaders at that Inauguration Day meeting.
1) After claiming for months that the nations debt was the most pressing budgetary issue, Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor walked away from talks with the president to reduce the budget deficit. New York Times investigative reporter Matt Bai interviewed dozens of people and reviewed private documents from the negotiations. He concluded that Boehner and Cantor were responsible for ending the negotiating sessions, not President Obama. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are currently pledging to reduce the deficit if elected.
2) Republicans threatened in 2010 to block an increase in the debt ceiling. As a result of their opposition, the nations credit status was downgraded. David Beers and John Chambers, the Wall Street analysts who wrote the report explaining the downgrade, pointed to the gridlock in Washington as a more important factor in this decision than the size of the deficit. Republicans are now blaming Obama for the downgrading of the countrys credit rating during his administration.
3) While complaining that the U.S. economy is in poor shape, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, have failed to act on the presidents Jobs Bill. The Romney/Ryan tickets primary issue during their presidential campaign has been the creation of jobs.
If you are aware that the Republican strategy has been to cause the president of the United States to fail, and you still support Romney and Ryan, it follows that you think the presidents defeat is more important than reduction of the debt, maintaining the nations credit status or legislative action that creates jobs.
Perhaps you have been able to look the other way while Tea Party Republicans invited white supremacists such as David Duke, former Grand Dragon of the Louisiana Ku Klux Klan, to appear at their public events. Maybe it doesnt bother you that the Koch Brothers, who have donated millions to defeat the President, are sons of a founder of the discredited John Birch Society, which proclaimed the civil rights movement of the 1960s a Communist conspiracy. Possibly you agree with Republicans whose opinions contradict scientifically-validated conclusions on evolution and climate change.
You might even cheer the people who call the president a foreigner, a Socialist and a Muslim, when all the objective documentation contradicts these claims. Whether you believe in any of these practices or positions, it is difficult to accept that an ethical American would knowingly support the people who came up with the shameful and unpatriotic Republican plan in that meeting on Inauguration Day, 2009.
Romney and Ryan are counting on two groups of voters to swing Obamas 2008 majority in their favor. The first is people so unaware they do not see who is really responsible for the embarrassing mess in Washington. The second is those who recognize the tactics developed at the meeting, but support Republicans anyway. Will the elections outcome prove that the GOP was right to bet on American voters being both uninformed and unethical?
Charles Hayes is a retired educator now living in Mancos.