In April, a book Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives by Robert Draper was published. The book detailed the shenanigans of the House of Representatives after the 2010 election in which the Republican Party, with the help of the Tea Party Movement, retook the House of Representatives.
However, an eyebrow-raising portion of this book came at the prologue where Draper detailed that several top Republican lawmakers, on the night of President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, planned ways to undermine his agenda. According to Sam Stein of The Huffington Post:
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).
For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), 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 revelation that some Republicans were planning to undermine President Obama’s agenda on the night of his inauguration did play in various outlets. For the most part, conservatives and Republicans ignored it while Democrats registered shock at something they probably already suspected.
Many of the players involved in the 2009 meeting played prominent roles when it came to undermining Obama:
Gingrich was once an aspiring presidential candidate where during a debate earlier this year, he infamously called Obama the “Food Stamp President”
Sen. DeMint was heard bragging in 2009 that if Republicans stopped the passage of Obamacare (which they didn’t), it would mark Obama’s “Waterloo.”
During the debt ceiling debacle spurred by Republican stridency in 2011, Rep. Cantor undermined any dealings that Boehner and President Obama could have had to end the crisis.
And even though they were absent from the meeting, both McConnell and Boehner have publicly undermined President Obama.
McConnell actually bragged in 2010 that the number one goal of Republicans was to hold President Obama to one term.
According to Time Magazine, in 2009, Boehner reportedly instructed House Republicans to publicly trash the just released $815 million stimulus bill on cable, on YouTube, on the House floor.
And collectively, Republicans have held up Obama’s American Jobs Act for over a year. According to Think Progress, the American Job Act has been praised by several economists.
Even more problematic than this is the seemingly cynical ho-hum attitude of the Beltway media and punditry about these revelations. Their jaded “big deal, it’s Washington” and “we’ve seen it all before” attitude is a huge part of the problem.
Its their schizophrenic mindset which leads them to pound us relentless about the sad state of the economy and the gridlock in Washington, while remaining clueless on how to put two and two together. Or in layman’s terms, when you have government officials and their allies pretending to be J.R. Ewing on Dallas or Alexis Colby on Dynasty, the needs of the people they have sworn to serve are bound to suffer.
A case can be made that Republicans’ preoccupation with damaging Obama over the needs of their constituents has played a part in the slowness of the country’s economic recovery.
And five months later after these revelations have become known, the 2009 plot should take on a new poignancy because some of the players of this game are taking huge roles in the 2012 election.
For example, Frank Luntz has been recently hired by CBS to be an “analyst” for the upcoming election.
But most importantly, Paul Ryan is now Mitt Romney’s running mate for the White House. This allows him to go from state to state and speak on the stump as to how Obama’s legislative agenda has supposedly failed.
Of course, judging from his acceptance speech at the recent Republican Convention, Ryan omits his role in making sure Obama’s agenda had troubles. Remember, he claimed that Obama ignored for the findings of Bowles-Simpson debt commission when in fact he himself derailed the commission by leading a bloc of Republicans to vote against its findings.
Bottom line – questions need to be asked to all of those who took part in that 2009 meeting, particularly Paul Ryan. Before he lambasts Obama’s alleged failed legislative agenda, we need to know how much did he contribute to this supposed failure and was it deliberate?
Ryan and Mitt Romney claim to be America’s comeback team, but that claim is extremely specious if Ryan helped to orchestrate something which put America in a position to need a comeback in the first place.