The GOP’s Obama problem

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) recently said that the reason the gun background check bill did not pass the Senate, despite that the fact that nearly 90 percent of voters support it, is that many Republican senators refuse to support anything that would give President Obama a legislative victory.

{mosads}The magnitude, intensity, and obsession of rightist hatred of the president is unprecedented in the history of American politics because it has poisoned the ability of Republican leaders in Congress to work in good faith with a twice-elected American president.

This GOP leadership’s fear and sanction of rightist hatred towards the president foments a near total obstruction against anything the president and Democrats propose, creates a near total gridlock of government in Washington and demonstrates a contempt for long-held notions of American civic life that have traditionally been accepted by all major political parties.

Principled conservatives such as William F. Buckley once moved to purge these factions of hate from the party. GOP leaders today fear them, and embrace them. This is the single greatest reason the GOP brand is in such disrepute today. This is why the GOP has lost most recent national elections.

Obama is not the first recipient of rightist hate. President Kennedy was greeted in Dallas in November 1963 with full-page ads expressing this hate. Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy were regularly attacked by the purveyors of this hate. Martin Luther King Jr. was regularly slandered by champions of this hate, including then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who is still inexcusably honored with having his name on a government building.

President Clinton was torched by this hatred, which included an attempt to delegitimize him as president almost from the day of his first inaugural, leading to a bogus impeachment that was an attempted constitutional coup d’etat. Hillary Clinton was scorched by this hate with slanderous accusations from the radical right and their shills in the rightist media. Al Gore was drenched with invective. War heroes John Kerry, Max Cleland and John McCain were attacked for their very acts of military heroism.

Most recently, war hero Chuck Hagel found his patriotism attacked by the latest voice of rightist venom, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is privately despised even by many Senate Republicans.

But the magnitude of rightist contempt, derision, scorn, venom, hatred and vitriol directed toward Obama is different, and the translation of this extreme distemper into near-total obstruction and gridlock by Republican leaders in Washington is historically unprecedented.

I applaud Toomey, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and other Republicans who rise above the politics of gridlock, venom and invective that poisons the GOP brand. They understand that preventing more mass murders of children would not be an Obama victory. It would be an American victory, worthy of bipartisan support.

No American president should ever have to defend his Christianity and Americanism. Every Republican leader should have had the decency and integrity to rise against these slanders. A few did; shamefully, others did not. Purveyors of hatred and slander should never have an honored seat at the table of power of any political party. Today they do.

The venom directed against the president is different because it has morphed into a magnitude of gridlock and obstruction never before seen in America.

I have written that the number of filibusters instigated by Republican senators today is far greater than the number of filibusters instigated by the most racist senators during the darkest days of the segregationist South. This is factually indisputable. This corrupts the Senate’s responsibility to govern, usurps the president’s authority to appoint, impedes the judiciary’s ability to function, poisons the integrity of our politics, destroys public faith in government, erodes global confidence in America and destroys the legacy of Lincoln.

Obama was elected twice. Neither election was close. Republicans should respect this.

Obstruction, gridlock, venom, vitriol, contempt and derision towards an American president is an American tragedy, brought to you by the politics of hate, which would serve the interests of Republicans and Americans to end.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at

Tags Al Gore Chuck Hagel Hillary Clinton John Kerry John McCain Ted Cruz
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