Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time to Put on the Big Boy Pants, Mr. President

After almost a year and a half in office, President Obama has returned to a familiar refrain: blame the Republicans for what's wrong with America today. As with a lot of "truth" that comes from Washington, DC, there is at least some truth within the statements. Republicans did participate in the environment that created at least some of the issues we're facing today. That's not in question.

However, they aren't the only ones responsible. The subprime mortgage crisis, which we are still feeling today, has Democrat fingerprints all over it. Two of the biggest players in the mortgage crisis, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, are still operating under the old rules because Congress refuses to take action against them and against their former leadership (who, by the way, comprised some of Obama's economic team while he was campaigning for President).

The oil spill in the Gulf has Democrat fingerprints all over it, too. It was Democrats who insisted that oil rigs be placed as far out into the Gulf as possible to protect the environment. (Gee, how's that workin' out for ya?) Who continues to block development of nuclear power in this country? Democrats. Who advocated for alternative energy sources like wind power, but refused to allow a wind farm because it would block his view? That would be the late Ted Kennedy, Democrat. Oh, the Democrats talk a great game when it comes to energy independence, but when it comes to delivering, they've fallen short. One could make the argument that through the delaying of technological advances in the arena of energy generation Democrats bear responsibility for the Gulf Coast oil spill by keeping us dependent on oil.

Republicans have had (and probably still have) ties to corruption in the political, personal, and business arenas. Democrats, who have railed against corruption (real or imagined) in these same arenas, are surprisingly just as dirty, but no less hypocritical. Christopher Dodd got a really good deal on a mortgage through Countrywide while at the same time being on a Senate committee that oversaw the mortgage industry. Charlie Rangel and Tim Geithner both have trouble paying their taxes. (Now, what would Vice President Joe Biden say about that, given that Biden said paying taxes was patriotic?) William Jefferson and the late John Murtha were implicated in serious crimes. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are both trying to hide their shady dealings and the shady dealings of their own party members.

Yes, Republicans are far from perfect, but to heap the totality of blame for the current state of affairs is intellectually dishonest. Democrats have dirty hands, too, and it's past time that they take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.

And that starts at the top, Mr. President. You can change the tone of this political season by accepting responsibility on behalf of your party for its role in the events I have chronicled here, and for others that I haven't mentioned. You ran on a platform of change and wanting to work with Republicans, but what you've shown is an unwillingness to do either. But you sure do like to point fingers when it suits your needs.

That's not what a leader does, Mr. President. A real leader accepts responsibility for his failings and the failings of those under him. Until you do that, all the finger-pointing in the world won't make people forget that your party played a role in the way things are today.

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