Commentary: Obama Offers a Compelling Vision of Teamwork in Washington
In his stirring State of the Union message, President Obama crafted an illustration that was so compelling and convincing that it should shame members of the Republican-led obstructionist House of Representatives to put away at least a portion of their bitterness and finally cooperate with the president on the pressing issues of the day.
The president spoke brilliantly of the elite Navy SEAL team that undertook the dramatic and successful mission to assassinate Osama bin Laden.
“Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans,” the president said of the military team. “But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates — a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.”
In a world where the film Red Tails was the second-highest grossing movie of last weekend, where every American was moved by the Bin Laden mission, the image of a focused, unified military was one everyone could relate to.
Beyond that, it was a dramatic appeal for bipartisan cooperation, the kind of teamwork that has sorely been lacking in this Congress. The president’s agenda has been largely stymied by a Republican leadership in the House that offers knee-jerk opposition to any and all things that have any connection to the Democratic leader.
But the GOP is a party whose sole obsessive motivation is to render Barack Obama to the role of a weakened, one-term president. They are driven by the desire to block any initiative backed by Obama, even when it goes against their very own principles and political bedrocks.
That was evident late last year, when the Republican leadership in the House, trapped by their disdain for the president, blocked a compromise on the payroll tax cut. It wasn’t until an embarrassed House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republican obstructionist leaders finally capitulated to the backlash of angry electorate.
If nothing else, the persistent level of unemployment in the United States — which remains at atrocious levels in the African-American community — should demand that Congress work together to stimulate jobs, to bolster the nation’s manufacturing base and to jump-start infrastructure projects.
At the end of his speech before Congress Tuesday evening, President Obama spoke again about the Navy SEAL team, saying that they were a model for how the White House and Congress should operate.
“All that mattered that day was the mission,” the president said. “No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job.”
One can only hope that the members of Congress were listening.
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