Way back in the dark ages, or, as we called them, the ’70′s, I went to college. Every now and then, the professors would assign us a term paper. Which meant trudging off to the library to do research. In the science courses, it meant going over to the walls of shelves which contained Biological Abstracts and Chemical Abstracts. What were those? They were volumes which contained a short summary of the articles published in biology or chemistry. There were anywhere from 1 to several volumes per year. There was an index volume for each year, that you could use to look up key words, and then you could go to the required page to see if the article in question had what you were looking for. Lather, rinse, repeat. Other courses had similar things, but the result was always that you spent a lot of time getting sources for your paper. I really don’t miss those days at all. Today, I can do that in a few minutes. Anyone can, which is why some of the responses to my post about “There Are Rules?” were so irritating.
Seriously, we have a huge amount of information available to us at our figurative fingertips. A few minutes search on Google, Yahoo, or Bing pulls up lists of places to go for information almost instantly. There’s Wikipedia, which has a nice search function and links right into articles detailing what you might need to know. So there’s really no excuse when someone comes in and babbles stuff like this:
blame him for not even trying. He could have pushed for single-payer healthcare instead of “taking it off the table”; it would have made a great statement in support of the 99%.
The thesis “he couldn’t do it because he was constrained by the rules” is pure Obama-supporter apologism. He didn’t “do what he promised” because he chose not to.
It demonstrates a lack of intellectual curiosity, and an inability to look things up! Honestly, it’s all available. It takes me just a few minutes on the Internet to look up Barack Obama’s 2008 platform. I can even look up how he’s doing in keeping to that. Now, as I said, I recognize that there are “rules,” and that there are procedural barriers to stop a President from doing everything he wants to. How do I know this? Well, another quick check of the Internet, and I find a nice site which has the U.S. Constitution on it. Lo and behold, Article 1 has right there: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States..” If you go down to Article 2, you find out that the President can’t legislate. Funny how that little point got missed.
But, moving on. Another quick check, and lo, I find that there’s a nice primer on the legislative process. Why would I care about that? Well, if I’m interested in politics, I have an agenda, and I want to pass laws to make that agenda happen, I need to know this stuff. That’s why I read it. So I find out that it’s not just enough to have a Representative “introduce a bill.” Any Representative can. But then it has to make it through committees. Most bills don’t make it out of them, and the ones that do often don’t make it out unchanged. Then they have to go to a floor debate, and amendments can be attached to it there, before the vote. Then you go through that process in the Senate.
Knowing that, you can start to guess why a President didn’t “do everything” you think he promised, or even that he did promise. But why wouldn’t he “try”? Well, here’s the thing that’s not in the official rules, but it’s mentioned in any number of movies, television shows, and books. It’s called “a whip count.” That is, before you publicly start anything, you broach the subject to the congressional leaders. They do a head count on your idea. It’s an opinion poll, really. They come back and tell you whether it stands a chance or not. This is nothing complex, people do it all the time. Just think of how many times you’ve “suggested” something to a group, and the reaction determines whether or not you go on. That’s what politicians do. If their original idea isn’t going to be accepted, then they stop, and see what will be acceptable.
That’s what Presidents do as well. Like or not, a president can’t order Congress -even members of his own party – to “toe the line” on a regular basis. Seriously. They don’t answer to him. So let’s go back to single-payer again. I’m sure the question was asked. What was the response back? “Not going to happen.” Why? Think back on the actual debate. Every Republican was against it. A significant number of Democrats were against it. So that means it wouldn’t make it out of committee, or if it did, make it out of the House. Now, that’s just one half of Congress. Then there’s the Senate. Where the opposition was equally intense. You didn’t have 60 votes to break a filibuster, and really, wouldn’t have had 51 votes to pass it even in “majority rules.” That’s what the President knew. What that means is that he’s not going to “try,” because it’s a losing effort right out of the gate, and you don’t waste political capital on it. It’s a fight you aren’t going to win, so you pick the fights you can.
This isn’t rocket science! It’s straightforward stuff. A few minutes research, and the use of some common sense experience. Even more, if you want to know why he isn’t “doing anything” now, or you’re babbling about how he should somehow “force” Congress to do something, you might want to take a look again at the Constitution and the legislative process. In doing so, you might want to remember who controls the House: The opposition party.
“Tolerates fools gladly” is not one of my character traits. The information is out there, it’s easy to find, and a little thought shouldn’t be that hard. If you’re coming in here from one of the emoprog/frustrati/fauxgressive sites and spewing the same easily debunked crap that’s “common wisdom” over there,
and don’t expect me to be nice about it.