Presidents have a very special tool at their disposal. We’ve come to call it the “bully pulpit,” and what that means is that basically any time the president shows up anywhere and he or she is making headline news and whatever they say is discussed and debated. It’s a tool that every president has at their disposal to advance their agenda. It’s just one of the perks of the job — you show up and other people show up to hear you and see you. Every news outlet has to cover your appearance, not because of any law other than that of supply and demand. The president provides their presence, and the public demands to know what they were speaking about.
And when the president rolls into a town somewhere among the amber waves of grain, he can set up a bit of political theater, it’s true. He can use that attention to speak his agenda in as glowing terms as he so chooses. It’s a tried and true political tactic, and yet if you were to listen to so many from the right-wing in this country right now, you’d get the idea that it’s simply unheard of. Of course, one could make a strong argument that the Iraq War, the single biggest mistake this country has made in the last forty years, was the direct result of the Bush II Administration using the bully pulpit to drum up support for the ill-fated war of choice. In the lead-up to the Iraq War, Dubya and his administration were all over TV everywhere they could be chumming the waters with tales about yellowcake uranium and weapons of mass destruction. Whether or not those claims that led to the Iraq War were unmitigated horse shit or not, the fact remains that as of about ten years ago, a Republican administration was blatantly using its bully pulpit to bull the nation into being puppets for a personal vendetta writ large.
Republican hypocrisy has become especially thick lately. Senator John “I Dated Betsy Ross” McCain grilling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi after having voted for the war in Iraq that cost 4000 American lives. If we’re talking about fiscal hypocrisy, it’s chastising President Obama for being “the worst spending President of all time” knowing full well that much of what’s been attributed to Obama’s “expenditures” have been mostly measures to rectify the clusterfuck of an economic meltdown that George W. Bush left us in (no, conservatives, we won’t be dropping that line from our talking points because there is no statute of limitations on historical presidential ineptitude).
And isn’t that really what pisses Republicans off the most, that they have to make up things to say about a Democratic president but that history can point to actual Republican presidential fuck-ups time and time again? The fact of the matter is that George W. Bush may not be the worst president in our nation’s history. It’s hard to make claims like that not having lived in every era of American life. Most certainly, without any hesitation though, I can say that George W. Bush is the worst president of the last hundred years. Worse than Hoover, worse than Coolidge. Neither of those two pre-Depression presidents compounded the country’s economic woes by slashing taxes while simultaneously exploding the size of the government (Department of Homeland security much) and starting wars of choice on the country’s credit card.
Empirically, there is evidence all around that the Bush/Cheney years will go down in history as some of the darkest times in our country. War became a blatant profit center, and to this day not a single apology has come out of that administration’s key actors for the devastation they brought upon the country. And rather than face the fact that the last guy who worshiped elephants that sat in the Oval Office caused so much damage to the country, the Republicans in Congress demagogue President Obama as often as they possibly can. To them it doesn’t matter that the majority of the country has already proven that they don’t really believe 99% of what comes out of their mouths. To them, their base is all that matters. Rather, to be more accurate, it’s the brainwashing of the base to be the same slaves to the oligarchs that they are that matters most to Republicans in Congress.
Now that the looming sequester cuts that were the compelling force in 2011’s budget fight are approaching, of course President Obama is going on the road to take his message to the people. He’s attempting to use public pressure to move the Republicans in his direction. It’s nothing new, nor is it surprising or even a guarantee of success for his agenda. But show me a president who doesn’t use his bully pulpit and I’ll show you a worthless politician. The entire reason people run for the office of the presidency is to use the bully pulpit. Being the president means getting to use the loudest megaphone out there. It doesn’t always guarantee success, but it’s still important that the president try to reach the people. The people, after all, are the ones who every politician, regardless of political party, are supposed to represent. A president who isn’t compelled to connect with the people by way of the bully pulpit has no business occupying the bully pulpit in the first place.
The reason that Republicans have been fighting so hard to derail President Obama from the moment he first took office four years ago is now being displayed in all it’s glory. Their party’s power-hungry obliteration of our budget surplus, diplomatic standing, and economic stability are the exact reason that Barack Obama won in 2008. We the people sent him into the Oval Office to restore as much of that which Bush II destroyed as he can. Republicans, whether out of desperation to avoid blame, or out of ignorance — willful or otherwise — of reality have had no choice but to fight to change the historical record, to create an alternate reality in which their voters can rest their heads. And in that alternate reality, a president shouldn’t use their bully pulpit to advance their own agenda.
Unless that agenda will cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. That’s just fine by them.